S'pore wants to produce vaccines for the region, not just for local consumption: Alvin Tan

By 2026, Singapore will be capable of end-to-end vaccine production.

Julia Yeo | May 06, 2021, 05:38 PM

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Attracting pharmaceuticals and vaccine manufacturers such as Sanofi Pasteur and Thermo Fisher Scientific to situate themselves in Singapore is not just for local benefit, but for the region and the rest of the world as well.

Singapore to be capable of end-to-end vaccine production by 2026

Minister of State for Trade and Industry (MTI), and Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY) Alvin Tan shared this insight during a plenary session at the St. Gallen Symposium on May 5, in response to a question about what leaders can do to handle the pandemic globally, and ensure that vaccines get to everybody.

Tan was speaking to about 2,000 participants from across the world at the 50th edition of the symposium, a three-day event (May 5- 7) supported by the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) and the Economic Development Board (EDB).

Singapore has been in talks with several pharmaceuticals to manufacture vaccines and therapeutics locally, including Sanofi and Thermo Fisher.

Both companies will be situating their vaccine facilities in Singapore.

Tan added that by 2026, Singapore will be capable of end-to-end vaccine production.

The move is to ensure that Singapore has a steady supply of vaccines, and can overcome challenges posed by supply chain disruptions, said Tan.

Not just for Singaporeans, but for the world too

However, Tan shared that bringing the facilities to Singapore is not only for local consumption, but for the region and the world as well.

"And not just in terms of vaccine supply, but in terms of research, investment, and enterprise," Tan said.

Tan noted Singapore's limitations as a small island state, and the vulnerabilities and constraints Singapore has to overcome.

"It's not natural that we would be a vaccine manufacturer; it's not natural that we are a hub for services for carbon sequestration and trading," Tan said.

"So we've always have had to...punch above our weight, secure the factors that will help us overcome our vulnerabilities, but also be relevant to the world", he said.

Playing a role in helping global fight against Covid-19

Adding to his point about Singapore's goal to supply vaccines beyond local consumption, he said that the government was aware that the Covid-19 virus "respects no borders".

He pointed out that Singapore lacked the luxury of larger countries such as the United States and China to be able to close their borders, despite a slight rise in local cases in recent weeks.

Hence, he suggested a need to cooperate with other countries in order to handle the pandemic globally, adding that Singapore has played a part in sending aid to India, a country seeing record numbers of daily cases in the midst of its second wave.

Tan mentioned the example of Singapore doing its part by sending 256 oxygen cylinders to India.

Tan also wanted Singapore to play a key role in the global fight against Covid-19.

"We will produce not just for ourselves. In fact, we cannot just produce for ourselves, but we want to be a research hub for the world, and also a keynote in the supply chain to service the world", he said.

Only location with participants

This year's St Gallen Symposium has adopted a hybrid format, with live panels and discussions streamed from St Gallen in Switzerland, Singapore, and the United States.

Singapore is the only location with participants attending the conference.

Hosted by UBS, this is the first time Singapore is holding an event concurrently with the actual symposium in Switzerland.

Top image via Alvin Tan/Facebook, EDB website