11 million masks, 1 million face shields among donations by Temasek Holdings in fight against Covid-19

Temasek Foundation has committed $800 million to battle Covid-19. ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG

SINGAPORE - Some 11 million masks were given out to Singaporean residents, along with free hand sanitisers, as part of Covid-19 efforts by Temasek Holdings to support the nation's fight against the pandemic.

In addition, about one million face shields were distributed to young schoolchildren and front-line workers in the food and beverage industry, while 250,000 oximeters - devices used to measure blood oxygen levels - were donated to various groups in the community.

Mr Dilhan Pillay, executive director and chief executive officer of Temasek International, told reporters during its year-end review on Tuesday (Sept 8) that the donations were part of Temasek's efforts to strengthen local communities and foster collective resilience amid the Covid-19 crisis.

The investment company's social and charity arm, Temasek Foundation, has committed $800 million to battle Covid-19.

As of July, around $400 million has been spent, with $250 million of this directed to Covid-related therapeutics and research and development for vaccines.

"Capital has also been set aside in the investment space for vaccine development and manufacturing, which is part of the company's approach to dealing with Covid-19," said Mr Pillay.

Temasek has supported Temasek Foundation and its partners in five key areas: diagnosis; containment and contact tracing; treatment; protection and prevention; and enablement, which entails the donation of key supplies such as masks, test kits and ventilators to some 35 countries worldwide.

More than 400 of its staff have volunteered for both local and worldwide initiatives.

Locally, its support spans key areas such as providing swab test booths to local general practitioner clinics and supporting firms in coming up with a novel, remotely controlled ventilator used to treat more serious cases, as well as potential drug treatments for Covid-19.

Mr Yeoh Keat Chuan, deputy head of Singapore projects and senior managing director of Temasek International's enterprise development group, said: "We are very heartened by how the different parts of the community, whether it's the public or the private sector, have come together to help the fight against Covid-19."

For instance, there was initially a limit to the number of nasopharyngeal swab tests that Singapore could conduct locally, as the main commercial manufacturer - which was based in Lombardy, the region in Italy hardest hit by the coronavirus - was unable to supply test kits during the height of the country's Covid-19 crisis.

"However, the community came together in Singapore - research institutes, hospitals and SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises) - to design, validate and subsequently manufacture the swabs.

"We started with 3D printing because this was the fastest way to get the swabs made and subsequently, we've moved to injection moulding because you can get the scale, and by the end of the year we would have manufactured 20 million swabs," he said.

In February, Temasek announced wage restraint measures to lend support to its portfolio companies, and the savings from this were channelled towards Covid-19 community initiatives.

Mr Lim Boon Heng, chairman of Temasek Holdings, said: "We decided very early to pitch in, and marshal our resources and capabilities across our network of partners and portfolio companies to help in the fight against Covid-19. Doing right and doing good has never been more critical - no one is safe till everyone is safe."

Correction note: This article has been updated for clarity.

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