Singapore to play crucial role in transporting Covid-19 vaccines around the world: PM Lee

Cargo containing pharmaceuticals being loaded up a Singapore Airlines plane bound for Sydney on Dec 5, 2020. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - As a global aviation hub, Singapore will play a crucial role in transporting Covid-19 vaccines around the world, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

In an address to the nation on Monday (Dec 14), Mr Lee outlined how Singapore is well positioned to handle large volumes of vaccines, which he said will support "our recovery in more ways than one".

He noted that vaccines would require cold chain management, in which they are transported in a temperature-controlled environment at every stage of their journey.

For example, the Pfizer vaccine would have to be stored at minus 70 deg C, which Mr Lee noted, was colder than the Arctic in winter.

"This requires infrastructure, high standards, skilled personnel, and good connectivity to many different countries and all along the supply chain," he said.

Fortunately, Singapore has a strong ecosystem for cargo handling, Mr Lee said, pointing to how SIA and Changi Airport's ground-handling partners have been certified by the International Air Transport Association to handle and transport pharmaceutical supplies.

Leading global logistics companies like DHL, UPS and FedEx are also based here, he added.

"We are now gearing ourselves up to handle large volumes of vaccine shipments into Singapore, and through Singapore, to help win the global fight against Covid-19," said Mr Lee.

He attributed the readiness to handle the vaccines to forward planning as well as the systematic creation of opportunities.

"It took us years of investment and planning, building a business-friendly climate and expanding our air links around the world," said Mr Lee.

"These long-term investments are now paying dividends."

SPH Brightcove Video
The first batch of Covid-19 vaccines could soon arrive in Singapore. Here is a closer look at how some vaccines will be distributed in a series of transportation and storage links called a cold chain.

He also praised the way everyone in the Republic reacted to the immediate Covid-19 crisis, with the situation now stable "only because everyone has worked so hard and sacrificed so much".

There is now light at the end of the tunnel with vaccines becoming available, he added.

"As vaccinations become widespread not only in Singapore, but also in our region and the world, we can look forward to resuming more normal lives," Mr Lee said.

"Let us keep up our efforts in this final stretch, to cross the finish line together, and complete our mission to defeat Covid-19."

Read highlights of the announcements by PM Lee and the Covid-19 ministerial task force here.​

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