SINGAPORE — Singapore has approved the use of Pfizer's coronavirus vaccine, and the first shipment will arrive by the end of this month, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said Monday.
Lee said Singapore, with a budget of over 1 billion Singapore dollars ($750 million) for vaccines, has "placed multiple bets" by signing advance purchase agreements with vaccine makers including Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech, Moderna Inc. and China's Sinovac.
"After studying the scientific evidence and clinical trial data, the Health Sciences Authority has approved the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for pandemic use," Lee said in a televised speech.
"We also expect other vaccines to arrive in coming months. If all goes according to plan, we will have enough vaccines for everyone in Singapore" by the third quarter of 2021, he said.
Lee said the vaccines will be given on a voluntary basis and will be free for citizens and long-term residents. He said he and some older Cabinet ministers will be vaccinated early as a demonstration that the vaccines are safe.
Priority will be given to healthcare workers and front-line personnel, as well as the elderly and other vulnerable people, before the rest of the population, he said.
"Now that vaccines are becoming available, we can see light at the end of the tunnel," Lee said.
"The more of us are vaccinated, the harder it will be for the virus to spread, and the safer we will all be as a society," he said, adding that it will bolster Singapore's economic recovery.
Singapore's expert committee on COVID-19 vaccination said in a separate statement that the Pfizer vaccine will not be given to pregnant women, immuno-compromised persons and those under the age of 16 until more data are available.
Coronavirus cases in Singapore have declined to below 10 daily. The city-state has recorded 58,320 cases and 29 deaths.