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G20 summit: PM Lee calls for faster manufacture and deployment of vaccines, standardised travel protocols

G20 summit: PM Lee calls for faster manufacture and deployment of vaccines, standardised travel protocols

PM Lee Hsien Loong attends the opening plenary session of the G20 Summit in Rome. (Photo: Ministry of Communications and Information)

SINGAPORE: Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Saturday (Oct 30) called for the faster manufacture and deployment of COVID-19 vaccines as well as standardised travel protocols at the Group of 20 (G20) summit.

Speaking at the “Global Economy and Global Health” session on the first day of the summit in Rome, he said that building collective resilience will be “essential”, even as the pandemic remains a challenge.

“New variants, more infectious or vaccine-resistant, may yet emerge. Meanwhile, countries still face the enormous economic, social, and human costs of the pandemic,” Mr Lee said.

And in order to build that resilience, in the short-term, there needs to be faster manufacture and deployment of vaccines worldwide to ensure a more “durable and equitable” recovery, he added.

In the longer term, this means strengthening pandemic preparedness and response, Mr Lee added.

“Singapore commends the Italian presidency for galvanising global cooperation to quell this pandemic and to prepare for future health crises. The proposed reforms and initiatives to strengthen healthcare financing are important first steps,” he said.

“The current global system for public health is significantly underfunded, and mobilising concerted action takes far too long. We need a mechanism for credible and inclusive global governance, as well as predictable and sustained funding to plug gaps in global health security.”

Mr Lee also pointed out that Singapore has played its part both regionally and internationally. 

“We contributed to the COVAX Advance Market Commitment and the COVID-19 ASEAN Response Fund. We donated vaccines, oxygen, and other critical supplies to those that needed them,” he explained.

“We used Singapore’s logistics capability, airport, and ultra-cold chain facilities, to become a distribution hub for vaccines.”

BORDERS REOPENING

In his speech, Mr Lee also addressed the reopening of borders, stressing the need to establish standardised safe travel protocols.

“We look forward to borders reopening and to further resumption of international trade and cross-border activities, in a safe manner,” added Mr Lee.

“We urge greater efforts to work with international bodies like the ICAO, WHO and IATA in order to establish standardised safe travel protocols and mutually recognised and interoperable digital health certificates.”

Mr Lee is in Rome on a working visit from Oct 28 to Nov 1 to attend the summit at the invitation of Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi.

He will participate in G20 discussions, as well as bilateral meetings with leaders of other countries on the sidelines of the Summit, which will be held on Saturday and Sunday.

Singapore, although not a G20 member, is an invited guest country of Italy, which holds the G20 presidency this year. 

Source: CNA/mt(ac)

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