Singapore rolled out the first batch of Pfizer-BioNtech COVID-19 vaccine on 21st December 2020, significantly ahead of the scheduled date.
Health officials have estimated that Singapore will receive its first batch of COVID-19 vaccines in January 2021. However, surprisingly the vaccines arrived much earlier on December 21st, 2020. The vaccines were carried by the Singapore Airlines’ cargo from Belgium and the freighter who was on board did not mention the size of the batch. With this, Singapore becomes the first Asian country to approve and receive the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines. The government has decided to prioritize vaccination of elderly individuals, frontline healthcare staff, and other groups who are at high risk of infection. The 68-year-old Prime Minister, Lee Hsien, will be one of the early recipients of the vaccine in a nation with a population of 5.7 million people. Singapore has the lowest global coronavirus fatality rate. On 21st December 2020, Lee updated a post on Facebook saying that he is delighted that the vaccines have arrived before the estimated date. He also added that soon the authorities will start the process of making Singapore coronavirus free.
Lee is encouraging the residents of Singapore to take the shot but has also mentioned that the vaccinations will be voluntary and the authorities will not force anyone to take it. According to Kenneth Mak, Director of Medical Services in Ministry of Health, once the vaccines are delivered, the process will start in two to three weeks. Singapore already has strict laws related to the precautions and prevention of the coronavirus and this is how they have kept the local infections to almost zero and is planning to increase the restrictions in the upcoming weeks. It has made an advanced down-payment and signed early purchase agreements for several vaccines produced by firms such as Sinovac and Moderna, and has also set more than S$1 billion (US$ 749 million) aside for vaccines.