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Singapore Airlines transports its 1st shipment of COVID-19 vaccine

Singapore Airlines has officially joined the list of airlines transporting the COVID-19 vaccine.

Photo: Aviation24.be

Singapore Airlines transported its 1st shipment of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine from Brussels to Singapore on 21st December,2020.

Singapore Airlines became one of the 1st logn-haul carriers of the vaccine, flying its 1st shipment from Brussels,Belgium to Singapore.

The vaccines flew on a freighter Boeing B747-400 operated by Singapore Airlines Cargo with the flight number SQ7979. The flight departed from Brussels at 21:24 local time on 20th December and flew to Sharjah,UAE. After a 1-hour stop, the aircraft left Sharjah at 8:30 local time and arrived in Singapore at 19:55 local time on 21st December.

Brussels to Sharjah SQ7979 Photo: Flightradar24
Sharjah to Singapore SQ7979 Photo: Flightradar24

Singapore airlines also conducted a practice flight of the same route the day before to prepare and get acquainted with the mission.

“The delivery of this first batch of Covid-19 vaccines to Singapore is an important milestone in the fight against Covid-19, and we are honoured to be able to play a part in this. It also served to demonstrate SIA’s and the Singapore air hub’s readiness for the very important job of transporting and distributing Covid-19 vaccines internationally.”, said Mr. Chin Yau Seng, Senior Vice President, Singapore Airlines Cargo.

Singapore is the 1st Asian country to approve and receive the doses of the vaccine and this flight is likely the first of many that the airline will operate as Singapore prepares for a mass vaccination campaign in the coming months.

The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine requires to be transported at extremely cold temperatures. It requires a cold-chain all the way from the factory to the hospital. The vaccine cargo received priority loading in Brussels and priority unloading in Singapore, where it was later moved to a cold chain facility at the airport which is called Coolport.

Photo: Singapore Ministry of Communications and Information

Within the aircraft, the vaccine is transported in thermal shippers or “cool boxes”. These temperature-controlled units keep the vaccine frozen during the long-haul flight and on the ground.

Once the vaccine arrives at its destination, it’s promptly placed in a freezer unit to maintain the cool-chain. From there, trucks take the vaccine to the distribution point, where they are removed from cold storage to be used for vaccinations.

Different Airlines like American Airlines and FedEx have already started vaccine transportation. Aviation industry will play a key role in vaccine transportation and distribution.

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