Singapore will be contributing US$5 million (S$6.67 million) to a global initiative targeted at ensuring lower-income nations’ access to COVID-19 vaccines, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) and the Ministry of Health (MOH) said in a joint statement on Friday (4 December).

The initiative, branded the COVID-19 Vaccine Global Access (COVAX) Advance Market Commitment (AMC) mechanism, aims to incentivise manufacturers to come up with sufficient amount of COVID-19 vaccines, as well as to provide access to developing countries.

In the joint statement, the Ministries said this initiative “will help support 92 low-and lower-middle-income countries’ access to COVID-19 vaccines through the Covax Facility”.

They added that the move is part of Singapore’s “consistent support for vaccine multilateralism, and the fair and equitable access and allocation of vaccines”, adding that an effective international response to the pandemic requires global solidarity.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on public health, society and the economy both at home and abroad,” read the joint statement.

Among the eligible countries, six are members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) — namely Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar, the Philippines and Vietnam.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on public health, society and the economy both at home and abroad. The virus does not respect borders, and no one is safe until everyone is safe,” said MFA and MOH.

The goal of the COVX Facility is to get hold and fairly distribute 2 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines by the end of 2021.

Singapore is one of 97 self-financing members in the COVAX Facility and co-chairs the Friends of the COVX Facility initiative with Switzerland.

“Singapore will continue to work closely with our international partners, in particular, the United Nations, the World Health Organization, Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations to advance vaccine multilateralism and forge a global response to this pandemic,” the ministries said.

As for the current update on the progress of COVID-19 vaccines by manufacturers, Moderna announced on Thursday (3 December) that it plans to have 100 to 125 million doses of its COVID-19 vaccine available in the first quarter of 2021.

However, the vast majority will go to the United States.

Between 85 to 100 million of the doses will be distributed in the United States, with the rest of the world receiving the remaining 15 to 25 million, the Cambridge Massachusetts-based company said in a statement.

Just a day earlier (2 December), Britain became the first Western country to approve a COVID-19 vaccine from US drugmaker Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech, and is planning to distribute about 800,000 initial doses in early December to high-risk individuals of its population.

Separately, British pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical company AstraZeneca have also started manufacturing its vaccine and will have enough to inoculate more than 100 million people.

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