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Thank you, Chair and Minister Nisia Trindade.


2.             Singapore supports the conclusion of a Pandemic Agreement. We feel the negotiations boil down to two key and pertinent issues: one is global surveillance, and second, better equity in distribution of vaccines and therapeutics.


3.             Both issues are important in their own right, but they have now been conjoined in the negotiations and draft Agreement. If we have to make progress on both simultaneously to come to an agreement, it is not a bad thing.


4.             Let me start by talking about surveillance. It is critical to alert us to new dangers, and give us time to respond. With the proposals on the table, it is clear that a premium is now put on data, specifically genetic sequence data. And rightly so, because there is value to obtaining this data, which will in turn encourage submission if we put a premium to it, and hence this will collectively improve global surveillance. It is a positive development that we should concretely capture in the Agreement.


5.             As for the issue of equity, Singapore supports developing countries getting their fair share of vaccines, therapeutics, and other pandemic-related products. The key question is how to secure the supply.


6.             Here, I think it is important to acknowledge the work done by the international scientific community, and this is salient. They are categorising pathogens that will likely trigger the next pandemic, into families. For example, there are coronaviruses where COVID-19 came from, filoviruses where Ebola belongs, and alphaviruses where there is Chikungunya.  


7.             For each family of pathogens, they are developing a prototype. So when the next pandemic happens, they can zoom into the right prototype, and hopefully find that half the work is already done.


8.             Then, it is about fine-tuning it, developing the appropriate delivery medium, whether it is viral vector or mRNA technology, and then production.


9.             In the last COVID-19 pandemic, while the speed of vaccine development was unprecedented, it still took some time. And then still more time was taken to ramp up production capacity, especially for mRNA vaccines. That ultimately led to inequity in distribution.


10.          For the next pandemic, development of vaccines can possibly be done at breakneck speed, perhaps within 100 days. To resolve inequity, the key lies in shifting the focus to more sustainable and geographically diversified production capacity.


11.          This means the constraint is not likely to be IP, but production capacity.


12.          We need to learn from each experience, but we should not make the mistake of fighting the last war.


13.          I suggest that the Pandemic Agreement should focus on helping developing countries establish the right conditions to build up manufacturing capacities and capabilities, tailored to each region. And perhaps the Pandemic Fund should also complement this by pivoting its focus and priority areas accordingly.


14.          Thank you.

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