Temasek, portfolio companies active in Covid-19 fight in Singapore and abroad

A man restocking masks on March 1, 2021, for Temasek Foundation's fourth mask distribution exercise in Singapore.
A man restocking masks on March 1, 2021, for Temasek Foundation's fourth mask distribution exercise in Singapore.ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI
Above: A Singapore Armed Forces combat medic receiving a Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 jab in January. BioNTech is among Temasek's portfolio firms. PHOTO: MINDEF/FACEBOOK Left: People collecting free masks provided by Temasek during one of its nationwide
Above: A Singapore Armed Forces combat medic receiving a Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 jab in January. BioNTech is among Temasek's portfolio firms. PHOTO: MINDEF/FACEBOOK

SINGAPORE - Temasek and its portfolio companies have played active roles in keeping communities safe amid the Covid-19 pandemic, both in Singapore and abroad.

In its annual review on Tuesday (July 13), the state investor highlighted its undertakings over the past year in areas such as healthcare, logistics and pharmaceutical research.

Aside from its nationwide mask and hand sanitiser distribution exercises in Singapore, it also provided key donations of test kits and personal protective equipment (PPE) locally and abroad.

To date, Temasek has donated 6,300 test kits, enabling over one million diagnostic tests, to 40 countries in Asia and beyond.

Among its portfolio companies that have been active in the global Covid-19 fight is vaccine maker BioNTech, which developed a coronavirus vaccine in partnership with Pfizer. The vaccine has been deployed in many countries globally, including Singapore.

Temasek's portfolio companies in Singapore, such as PSA International and SingEx, also played a key role. Efforts included setting up a community care facility in Singapore Expo where Covid-19 patients were housed. The facility helped ease the strain on Singapore's healthcare facilities when local cases soared last year.

Another of its investees, D'Crypt, developed an automatic contact tracing device which supported national efforts. More than 835,000 devices were deployed, used by residents and staff in migrant worker dormitories in Singapore.

Temasek chairman Lim Boon Heng said: "I was most encouraged by the public spirit of our people - they stepped forward and volunteered to help our communities keep safe and cope in these trying times. At the same time, they continued to pursue a full agenda advancing Temasek's role as an investor, institution and steward."

The firm has been setting aside a portion of its returns above its risk-adjusted cost of capital for community gifts since 2003, it said. Some of the earmarked funds were used for its Covid-19 initiatives in areas such as testing and treatment.

Temasek also facilitated a partnership between its social and charity arm Temasek Foundation, Singapore Airlines and the World Food Programme to sponsor 40 humanitarian flights last year.

These transported medicines, PPEs and other essential supplies abroad, and the partnership was expanded this month to provide supplies to India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Indonesia and potentially other countries in the region.

Temasek said the humanitarian initiatives led by Temasek Foundation have been boosted by additional donations and support from its portfolio companies and other partners.

Several of the firms in its life sciences portfolio also pivoted to support Covid-19 efforts last year.

For example, Singapore-based biotech firm Tychan developed a candidate antibody for Covid-19 that is in final-stage trials. The antibody can potentially help patients recover faster, while slowing the progression of the infection.

Other firms worked on using artificial intelligence to identify existing drugs which could be repurposed or combined to treat Covid-19 at various stages of illness, Temasek added.