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Singapore contributing US$15 million to CEPI to help development of vaccines against infectious diseases

Singapore contributing US$15 million to CEPI to help development of vaccines against infectious diseases
A person receiving a vaccine shot in Singapore. (Photo: CNA/Marcus Mark Ramos)

SINGAPORE: Singapore is contributing US$15 million (S$20.5 million) in total over the next five years to the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), a global partnership that works to accelerate the development of vaccines against emerging infectious diseases.

Announcing this at the Global Pandemic Preparedness Summit on Wednesday (Mar 9), Health Minister Ong Ye Kung said: "More than two years into the pandemic, the world has not yet emerged from the shadow of COVID-19.

“While the future development of the pandemic remains uncertain, what we are certain of is that we need a coordinated, multilateral response to a crisis of such global scale and spread. We can never coordinate our actions as fast as a new variant will spread; but try we must."

The summit is co-hosted by the CEPI and the UK government. According to the CEPI website, the summit brings together leaders to back CEPI's US$3.5 billion plan and explore a response to the next infectious disease by making safe, effective vaccines in 100 days.

In his virtual speech at the summit, Mr Ong pointed to “previously unimaginable” border closures, lockdowns, nationwide vaccination exercises and the “unprecedented rapid development of vaccines and therapeutics”. 

“Meanwhile, trillions have been spent to prop up local economies and healthcare systems, even as the costs in human lives and ill health accumulate,” he added. 

Investing in global transnational pandemic preparedness capabilities made “good sound sense”, Mr Ong told the summit.

One key area of pandemic preparedness is vaccine development and production, he said, adding that this is where the CEPI plays an "indispensable role in the global health architecture".

"Transnational issues such as research and development, and scaling up manufacturing and distribution capabilities and capacity for vaccines require increased collective financing and action," he added.

The US$15 million will go towards "supporting the goals" laid out in the CEPI 2.0 strategy. According to the CEPI, the 2.0 strategy aims to prepare for known epidemic and pandemic threats by developing vaccines and biologics, building on COVID-19 achievements and transforming the response to the next novel pathogenic threat.

Besides the contribution of US$15 million, Singapore also "values and welcomes technical exchanges and collaborations with CEPI", said Mr Ong.

The Ministry of Health (MOH) said COVID-19 has highlighted the “perennial under-investment in pandemic preparedness”. 

"The contribution from Singapore will go towards CEPI’s mission of accelerating vaccine development against emerging infectious diseases and enabling equitable access to these vaccines," said MOH.

Mr Ong urged all countries to contribute “towards our common goal of a strengthened global health system”. 

“COVID-19 reminded us once again of our interconnectedness, that all of humankind share a common destiny,” he said. 

“All countries large or small have responsibilities to collectively rectify the longstanding under-investment in pandemic preparedness.”

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Source: CNA/vc(mi)

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