SINGAPORE - The first shipment of Moderna's Covid-19 vaccine has arrived here, as Singapore ramps up its vaccination drive.
A Singapore Airlines (SIA) freighter flew in from Brussels, Belgium with the shipment on Wednesday (Feb 17). After a transit stop in Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates, it touched down at Changi Airport at about 1.40pm.
The Moderna vaccine was delivered earlier than expected. The Ministry of Health had said on Feb 3 that the first shipment would arrive around March.
Education Minister Lawrence Wong, who co-chairs the Covid-19 task force, said in a Facebook post that another batch of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine had also arrived earlier on Wednesday.
He said: "These shipments will enable us to progressively roll out our vaccination programme, with vaccination for seniors in the community set to begin...
"More vaccines from both Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech will arrive over the coming months."
Mr Wong said the Government would continue to monitor the vaccine supplies in order to meet its target of vaccinating all Singaporeans and long-term residents by the end of this year.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said on Facebook that he hopes seniors will book their Covid-19 vaccination appointments when their turn comes.
"Until then, do continue to follow safety regulations, wear masks, and remember safe distancing," he added.
SIA said in a statement that the Moderna vaccine shipment was prioritised for loading in Brussels. It was also prioritised for unloading in Singapore.
SIA senior vice-president for cargo Chin Yau Seng said the carrier has in the last two months ferried the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine to Australia and New Zealand as well. It has also flown the Sinovac Covid-19 vaccines to Indonesia.
Meanwhile, Transport Minister Ong Ye Kung said in a Facebook post on the Moderna vaccine's arrival that SIA and ground handler Sats have been busy with cargo deliveries.
He added: "This has put to good use our capabilities to handle temperature-sensitive pharmaceuticals and the connectivity with cities around the world."
The Moderna vaccine is the second Covid-19 vaccine to be approved for use in Singapore after the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.
The Health Sciences Authority had said its review of available clinical data found that the Moderna vaccine demonstrated a high efficacy of 94 per cent, with the benefits outweighing the risks.
Both the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines use mRNA technology, which involves injecting snippets of the virus' genetic material into the body to stimulate an immune response.
Reported side effects from both vaccines are similar and include pain, swelling at the injection site, fatigue, vomiting and joint pain.
The Moderna vaccine requires two doses 28 days apart, while the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine's two doses are given 21 days apart.