G20 summit: PM Lee, world leaders commit to providing equal access to Covid-19 vaccine

The summit was held virtually due to the pandemic.

Matthias Ang | November 22, 2020, 03:55 PM

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has called on world leaders who are part of the Group of 20 (G20) to ensure that access to the Covid-19 vaccine is equal and affordable, The Straits Times (ST) reported.

In addition, surveillance networks of diseases should also be enhanced, he said.

The prime minister was speaking on the first day of a two-day virtual summit of the group on Nov. 21, as an invited guest.

He further added that Singapore supported the efforts of the G20 Saudi Presidency in coordinating the efforts of the group's members to protect livelihoods and help the most vulnerable.

PM Lee: Good that the G20 is advancing vaccine multilateralism

PM Lee voiced his approval for the G20's backing of international initiatives such as the Access to Covid-19 Tools Accelerator and the Covid-19 Vaccine Global Access (Covax) Facility, in order to ensure equitable access to the vaccine.

As such, Singapore will contribute to the Covax Advance Market Commitment, which helps to fund vaccines for lower-income countries.

Singapore will also work closely with the World Health Organisation (WHO) and Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations to enhance vaccine development and pandemic preparedness in the long-term.

Singapore is also a co-chair of the Friends of the Covax Facility (FOF) initiative, along with Switzerland, a group that supports vaccine multilateralism and the goal of ensuring affordable, fair and equitable access to safe and effective Covid-19 vaccines for all.

In Sep. 2020, the FOF released a statement calling for other countries to join the group to support such an effort.

PM Lee: Countries should also embrace multilateral cooperation under the WHO

PM Lee added that countries needed to work together, and that "no country is safe until every country is safe."

He said that he hoped they would embrace cooperation under the leadership of the WHO.

Meanwhile, Singapore is ready to support the G20's efforts to "reinvigorate" multilateralism and create an environment where both small and big countries can prosper.

Other world leaders also spoke of the need for cooperation. France president Emmanuel Macron said, "the only effective response to the pandemic will be a coordinated, global one based on solidarity."

German chancellor Angela Merkel said the G20 has a responsibility to come up with a global effort to a global challenge.

King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud of Saudi Arabia, who is hosting the summit, also spoke of working together to ensure that everyone has access to the Covid-19 vaccine.

"The pandemic has demonstrated that international cooperation is the optimal way to overcome crises. We must focus on the most vulnerable segments. We must provide support for all countries of the world, for we would not be safe until everyone is safe."

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Top image from PM Lee's Facebook page.