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Dinesh Vasu Dash: The man who helped Singapore manage Covid-19 impact

SINGAPORE: Dinesh Vasu Dash, the Indian-origin public health official behind Singapore’s Covid-19 vaccination push, is one of 32 people who will receive the Public Service Star (Covid-19) award for his contributions to the nation’s fight against the pandemic, it was reported on Thursday.

“We needed a logistical chain of military precision and the limited vaccines had to be treated as liquid gold,” the 48-year-old crisis strategy and operations group director at the Ministry of Health, who will be recognised for managing the impact of the pandemic in Singapore, said on Thursday.

“Extensive efforts were also made to demystify the then-new vaccines and assure the public of their safety and efficacy,” The Straits Times newspaper quoted Dinesh as saying.

“I was blessed to have an outstanding team, which demonstrated commitment, passion, and professionalism… to ensure that the impact of the pandemic on the lives and livelihoods of Singaporeans was minimal,” he said.

Not only did vaccination centers have to be quickly set up to administer jabs across the island, but the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine — the first to be available here — had to be stored at a temperature of minus 70 degrees Celsius, said the crisis strategy and operations group director at the Ministry of Health.

In addition, the mRNA vaccines had to be administered within six hours of being thawed, he said.

Dinesh says his role in this initiative — which has enabled more than 17 million Covid-19 vaccine doses to be administered here to date — is his proudest achievement over the past three years of the pandemic.

Meanwhile, Caroline Yang, president of the Singapore Shipping Association (SSA) and vice-chair of the International Chamber of Shipping, will also receive the award for helping to set up the Covid-19 vaccination programme, dubbed SeaVax.

This was something that would not usually be within the scope of a trade association’s work, but “we just rolled up our sleeves and did whatever we needed to do”, said 57-year-old Yang.

“To date, over 1,000 seafarers from around the world who came to our port have received their vaccinations here,” she added.

More than 100,000 people will receive awards for their contribution to Singapore’s fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) said on Thursday (December 29).

“In recognition of their public spirit and contributions to the nation’s fight against COVID-19, special state awards will be awarded to individuals and teams in the public, private, and people sectors, including the public healthcare sector,” said the PMO.

There are two sets of awards the National Awards (COVID-19), as well as the COVID-19 Resilience Medal, and the COVID-19 Resilience Certificate.

About 9,500 people will receive the National Awards (COVID-19), including about 4,000 from the public healthcare sector, 4,500 from the public sector, and about 900 from the private sector.

“The number and spread of individuals receiving awards reflect how the fight against COVID-19 has been a whole-of-nation effort, including those who provided medical care, surveillance, and testing, organised the vaccination drive, oversaw safe distancing, ran dormitory operations and ensured our economic, supply chain and social resilience,” said the PMO.


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