Moderna COVID-19 vaccine: Singapore receives first shipment

Singapore obtained its first shipment of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccines on Wednesday, two weeks after the authorities approved its use to contain the covid-19 pandemic.

The vaccines were carried onboard Singapore Airlines flight SQ7137, a scheduled freighter service from Brussels, and arrived in Singapore at about 1.40 pm, Indian time

This is the second vaccine approved for use in Singapore, which received the first shipment of Pfizer-BioNTech's COVID-19 vaccine on December 21.

''The vaccines were prioritised for loading into the aircraft in Brussels and was given precedence during unloading in Singapore. They were then transported to SATS' cold-chain facility, Coolport, for subsequent storage and ground transportation,'' Channel News Asia reported, citing a statement from Singapore Airlines on Wednesday.

The Health Sciences Authority had granted interim authorisation on February 3 for Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine to be used in Singapore on people aged 18 years and above.

Explaining its role in the vaccine handling process, Singapore Airport Terminal Services said once the shipment arrives at the airport, the temperature-controlled cargo containers would be unloaded to cool dollies, which have temperature loggers and location tracking features.

The containers are then brought to Coolport in an ''unbroken cold chain'', it added. At Coolport, individual checks are conducted before the containers are stored in cold rooms with the required temperature range. They will then be transferred via dedicated temperature-controlled truck docks for delivery by agents or freight forwarders.

The Moderna and Pfizer vaccines have to be stored at very low temperatures because they are made from easily-destroyed genetic material called mRNA (messenger ribonucleic acid).

Moderna's vaccine can be stored at -20 degrees Celsius and lasts in a fridge for 30 days, while Pfizer's vaccine has to be stored at -70 degrees Celsius and lasts for only five days at standard refrigerator temperatures, the report said.

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