Singapore — This year’s G-20 summit, a virtual event because of travel restrictions from the Covid-19 pandemic, was held in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, over the weekend.

The first day’s agenda on Saturday (Nov 21) centred on the ongoing global pandemic.

Speaking via video link, Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong stressed the need for global cooperation if the world is going to eventually beat Covid-19.

According to a report in the, Mr Lee called on the leaders at the summit to work together for the even distribution of vaccines throughout the world and to improve the organisations in charge of monitoring diseases in order to be better prepared for any future pandemic.

This is not the first time that Mr Lee has called on “vaccine multilateralism“. In June, he had taken part in a virtual summit and spoken about the equitable distribution of vaccines throughout the world once they become available for public use.

The World Health Organization (WHO) had warned about the need for nations to come together in global solidarity to ensure that all countries, especially the poorer ones, would have equal access to the vaccine.

On Saturday, Mr Lee welcomed the G-20’s backing of vaccine multilateralism by supporting such initiatives as the Access to Covid-19 Tools Accelerator and the Covid-19 Vaccine Global Access (Covax) Facility, both of which are aimed at making sure new vaccines will be distributed equally.

Singapore is the co-chairman of the Friends of Covax Facility (FOF). Aside from the government’s commitment to helping fund vaccines for poorer nations, Singapore will also continue to work closely with WHO and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations in order to find more ways to be prepared for times such as these.

Mr Lee’s second suggestion was to boost the disease surveillance networks around the globe in order to “be better prepared” should there be another pandemic.

He said: “Covid-19 has wreaked havoc on the whole world. But the next pandemic – Disease X – may be more contagious and far deadlier.”

Mr Lee believes that this initiative will only come when countries willingly work together. His hope is that all countries will heed the need to follow WHO leadership because “Covid-19 has reinforced the need for countries to work together. Ultimately, no country is safe until every country is safe”.

He added: “Singapore stands ready to support the G-20 in its endeavours to reinvigorate multilateralism – and to create a fair, predictable and stable international order, which will allow every country, big and small, to grow and prosper.” /TISG