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Singapore ready to support ‘swift and equitable’ distribution of COVID-19 vaccines within region: PM Lee

Singapore ready to support ‘swift and equitable’ distribution of COVID-19 vaccines within region: PM Lee

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at the Second Plenary Session for the 13th Asia-Europe Meeting Summit on Nov 26, 2021. (Photo: MCI)

SINGAPORE: Singapore stands ready to support the “swift and equitable” distribution of COVID-19 vaccines within the region, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at the 13th Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) Summit on Friday (Nov 26).

This involves ramping up Singapore’s cold chain logistics services and expanding its vaccine manufacturing capabilities, with three new vaccine production facilities in the pipeline, he said during his intervention at the second plenary session on COVID-19 and socioeconomic recovery and development.

The two-day biennial summit, which began on Thursday, was held via videoconference and hosted by Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen after being called off last year due to the pandemic.

Singapore has donated more than 122,000 doses of vaccines procured under the COVAX scheme to neighbouring countries, Mr Lee said.

The COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access (COVAX) facility is a joint initiative of the World Health Organization (WHO), the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) and the Vaccine Alliance (GAVI).

“Singapore will also donate our allocation of the COVID-19 ASEAN Response Fund to other ASEAN member states,” he added.

“Beyond facilitating vaccine access, Singapore has worked with the International Monetary Fund to support other nations in managing the impact of the pandemic.”

Countries will need to learn to live with COVID-19 in a “safe and sustainable” manner, said Mr Lee.

“(There is) much that we can do to build our collective resilience to overcome the social and economic impact of the pandemic. ASEM partners are well-positioned to do so,” he added.

“For instance, we can facilitate the sharing of knowledge and expertise, both in the public and private spheres. We should also work closely to fully restore supply chains, and reopen international travels in a safe manner.”

To reconnect with the rest of the world, Singapore is working with partners to develop “interoperable digital solutions”, such as digital health certificates, to facilitate “more seamless and safe” travel by vaccinated people, said Mr Lee.

He added that Singapore’s COVID-19 certificate is now recognised as “equivalent” to the European Union’s certificate.

“NEW OPPORTUNITIES” IN THE PANDEMIC

The COVID-19 pandemic has created new opportunities, said Mr Lee in his intervention during the summit’s retreat session on ASEM, international and regional issues.

The pandemic has “catalysed the ongoing digital revolution”, opening up new markets for businesses, added Mr Lee.

“It showed us the importance of open data flows across the world, so that we can share ideas and spur innovation. But it also resurfaced the challenges of misinformation and the need for new approaches to tackle this scourge,” he said.

“We must therefore affirm and reinforce our support for multilateralism. Singapore will always staunchly support international law and the multilateral system.”

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Source: CNA/gy

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