Singapore calls for equitable, affordable supply of COVID-19 vaccines to region
SINGAPORE,. The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) has to ensure an equitable, steady and affordable supply of COVID-19 vaccines for its people once they are available, said Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at the ongoing 37th ASEAN Summit chaired by Vietnam on Thursday.
He made the call for “vaccine multilateralism” as he stressed the importance of regional cooperation to mitigate the pandemic’s long-term impact at the meeting held virtually this year, reports Vietnam News Agency (VNA).
He added that Singapore supports global vaccine initiatives such as the COVID-19 Vaccine Global Access (Covax) Facility, whose members include many ASEAN states as well as the country’s external partners.
Many leading vaccine candidates are being developed by Singapore’s external partners, as well as ASEAN member states, Lee said, adding that ASEAN should work with these partners to facilitate the production and distribution of vaccines to meet the needs of the region.
Singapore will contribute US$100,000 to the COVID-19 ASEAN Response Fund, which helps member states procure the medical supplies and equipment needed to combat the coronavirus.
On the economic front, leaders should redouble efforts to enhance ASEAN’s competitiveness in the post-pandemic world, he added.
Lee noted that there are existing frameworks that can be built on, such as the Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity 2025 and the ASEAN Smart Cities Network. In addition, the recently launched ASEAN Customs Transit System helps facilitate the cross-border flow of goods.
These initiatives can catalyse the regional recovery, and allow ASEAN to make full use of technology as the region adjusts to new ways of living and doing business in the post-pandemic world, he said.
The Prime Minister noted that ASEAN has made progress in various areas, including the mid-term reviews of the ASEAN Community Blueprints.
It has started developing the ASEAN Community’s post-2025 vision, and is expected to sign the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) deal on Nov 15 following years of negotiations.