Indian-origin doctor gets Lee Kuan Yew Scholarship for securing early access to COVID vaccines
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Singapore: A 26-year-old Indian-origin doctor who played an important role during the coronavirus pandemic, securing early access to vaccines and therapeutics for Singapore, is among the three recipients of the bond-free Lee Kuan Yew Scholarship given to outstanding Singaporeans to help them pursue postgraduate studies.

Dr M Premikha will get a SGD 50,000 allowance for up to two years from the scholarship since she is from the private sector and will later this month head to Johns Hopkins University in the United States to begin a one-year master’s programme in public health, the Straits Times reported Thursday.

Among Dr Premikha’s responsibilities was negotiating advanced purchase agreements with different vaccine manufacturers when she was at the Ministry of Health (MOH) from July 2021 to January this year.

Noting that the team had to factor in several uncertainties in the agreements, Dr Premikha said, “It was so hard to ascertain the demand because when I was negotiating, we did not even know if there was a need for a booster vaccination. We were like, ‘So what if we don’t need the boosters? What do we do with the stocks? Or what if we need them? Then we won’t have enough’.”

She also worked with Gavi, the international vaccine alliance, to bring in vaccines through its COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access (Covax) programme, and coordinated with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs here to donate vaccines to neighbouring countries in need.

Set up in 1991 by Tanjong Pagar Citizens’ Consultative Committee to commemorate the significant contributions by Singapore’s founding prime minister, the Lee Kuan Yew Scholarship is given to outstanding Singaporeans to help them pursue postgraduate studies. The scholarships were given on Thursday.

The other two recipients are Dr Hairil Rizal Abdullah, 42, and Matthew Lee Mun Hong, 32, who has been in public service since 2014. They will get a one-off award of SGD 10,000 as their postgraduate studies are sponsored by their agencies.

Also read: New strategy may reduce fatigue after Covid vaccination: Study

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