Policy Brief: Issue 99: Preliminary recommendations on the establishment of a regional centre for infectious disease control in ASEAN

“United we stand, divided we fall” is a Thai idiom used to exemplify the importance of staying united and of teamwork and common interests. This idiom is reaffirmed in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, shown in the global nature of catastrophe and the shared prospects of recovery. However, policies for pandemic response in each country has so far been largely self-serving, with a national focus; prominent examples include border closures and export bans of medical supplies, drugs, and equipment, including vaccine or vaccine precursors. Additionally, wealthy countries which have procured and stockpiled vaccine supplies in excess of their requirement, have impeded other countries’ access to vaccines. These actions of vaccine inequity and other inward-looking policy approaches have prolonged the pandemic, increased viral spread and led to the emerge of new variants. These impacts have also been unequally distributed, with low-and middle-income countries (LMICs) more severely impacted by the virus and restrictions in response to the crisis.

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