A 26-year-old Indian-origin doctor who played an important role during the coronavirus pandemic in 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 an 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 program 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."
Set up in 1991 by the Tanjong Pagar Citizens' Consultative Committee to commemorate the significant contributions of 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.
She has also worked with Gavi, the international vaccine alliance, to bring in vaccines through its COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access (Covax) program, and coordinated with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs here to donate vaccines to neighboring countries in need.