Singapore building vaccine-manufacturing capacity in Covid-19 fight, says PM Lee

The Fortitude diagnostic kit was developed and rolled out during the early stages of the outbreak. ST PHOTO: TIMOTHY DAVID
GSK Tuas Global Vaccines Manufacturing Facility. PHOTO: GLAXOSMITHKLINE
GSK Tuas Global Vaccines Manufacturing Facility. PHOTO: GLAXOSMITHKLINE

SINGAPORE - The Republic is building up its vaccine-manufacturing capacity even as researchers around the world race to develop one for Covid-19.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said on Friday (June 5) that Singapore intends to offer fill-and-finish contract manufacturing services to vaccine developers.

In the pharmaceutical industry, contract development and manufacturing organisations work on a contractual basis to fulfil services such as the manufacture of drugs or vaccines.

"This should help them ramp up production faster, and assure them high standards of safety and quality in the manufacturing process," PM Lee told the Global Vaccine Summit, co-hosted by the British government and Gavi, the vaccine alliance, over a video call.

The discovery, production and distribution of a safe and effective vaccine is vital to getting life back to normal despite Covid-19, he said.

He added: "I hope that this summit will help focus our minds and resources, and forge partnerships to promote 'vaccine multilateralism'."

Singapore is also pulling its weight in the global fight against Covid-19 on other fronts, including investing in international efforts to combat the virus and leveraging its research expertise to develop new cures.

"The Covid-19 pandemic demands a unified and concerted response by all nations," he said, adding that Singapore welcomes this global call for action and is doing its part.

The Republic has contributed about US$13 million (S$18 million) towards international Covid-19 efforts through the World Health Organisation and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, and in donations of essential medical equipment and supplies, said PM Lee.

The nation is also investing heavily in research and development on diagnostics, vaccines and therapeutics.

On the diagnostics front, for example, Singapore researchers have developed a range of serological and nucleic acid-based diagnostic tests, said PM Lee.

The Fortitude diagnostic kit, for example, was developed and rolled out by the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*Star) and Tan Tock Seng Hospital during the early stages of the outbreak in February.

Today, it has been deployed in 13 public and private hospitals and laboratories in Singapore, as well as in more than 20 other places, including New Zealand and the United States.

PM Lee said Singapore researchers have also been developing therapeutic monoclonal antibodies, as well as a vaccine, and have started clinical trials of various therapeutics.

Duke-NUS Medical School, for instance, is working with American medicine company Arcturus Therapeutics on a Covid-19 vaccine, which involves getting the human body to produce part of Sars-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19.

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