11 million masks among donations by Temasek in Covid-19 battle

Thai national Pirapat, 17, a student in Singapore, with a free reusable mask from Temasek Foundation collected from a vending machine at the Toa Payoh bus interchange in June. A total of 11 million masks were given out to residents here. ST PHOTO: KE
Thai national Pirapat, 17, a student in Singapore, with a free reusable mask from Temasek Foundation collected from a vending machine at the Toa Payoh bus interchange in June. A total of 11 million masks were given out to residents here. ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG

A total of 11 million masks were given out to Singapore residents, along with free hand sanitiser, as part of efforts by Temasek to support the nation's fight against the coronavirus pandemic.

In addition, about one million face shields were distributed to young schoolchildren and front-line workers in the food and beverage industry, while 250,000 oximeters - devices used to measure blood oxygen levels - were donated to various groups in the community.

Mr Dilhan Pillay, executive director and chief executive of Temasek International, told reporters during its year-end review yesterday that the donations were part of Temasek's efforts to strengthen local communities and foster collective resilience amid the Covid-19 crisis.

The investment company's social and charity arm, Temasek Foundation, has committed $800 million to battle Covid-19.

As at July, around $400 million has been spent, with $250 million of this directed to Covid-19-related therapeutics, and research and development for vaccines.

"Capital has also been set aside in the investment space for vaccine development and manufacturing, which is part of the company's approach to dealing with Covid-19," said Mr Pillay.

Temasek has supported Temasek Foundation and its partners in five key areas: diagnosis, containment and contact tracing, treatment, protection and prevention, and enablement, which entails the donation of key supplies such as masks, test kits and ventilators to some 35 countries worldwide.

More than 400 of its staff have volunteered for both local and worldwide initiatives.

Locally, its support spans key areas such as providing swab test booths to local general practitioner clinics, as well as supporting firms in coming up with a novel, remotely controlled ventilator used to treat more serious cases, and potential drug treatments for Covid-19.

Mr Yeoh Keat Chuan, deputy head of Singapore projects and senior managing director of the enterprise development group at Temasek International, said he is heartened by the melding of community efforts in both the public and private sectors in the fight against Covid-19.

For instance, limits in the overseas supply of nasopharyngeal swab tests, which could in turn limit local testing, were overcome by the local community.

 
 
 

Research institutes, hospitals, and small and medium-sized enterprises came together to design, validate and subsequently manufacture their own swabs.

"We started with 3D printing because this was the fastest way to get the swabs made, and subsequently we have moved to injection moulding because you can get the scale, and by the end of the year we would have manufactured 20 million swabs," Mr Yeoh said.

In February, Temasek announced wage restraint measures to lend support to its portfolio companies, and the savings from this were channelled towards Covid-19 community initiatives.

Temasek chairman Lim Boon Heng said: "We decided very early to pitch in and marshal our resources and capabilities across our network of partners and portfolio companies to help in the fight against Covid-19. Doing right and doing good has never been more critical - no one is safe, till everyone is safe."

Correction note: This article has been edited for clarity.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 09, 2020, with the headline '11 million masks among donations by Temasek in Covid-19 battle'. Print Edition | Subscribe