The COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on the lives of all in the world. Since COVID-19 was declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern by the World Health Organisation (WHO) in January 2020, more than 4 million lives have been lost to the virus. Beyond the tragedy of millions of deaths, COVID-19 has also caused immense socio-economic suffering for many. As a result of lockdowns and travel restrictions imposed by authorities to contain the spread of the virus, many businesses have had to close and many workers have lost their livelihoods.
Given the human suffering caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, it is imperative that the global community works collaboratively together to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic in an effective and equitable manner. Key to a global COVID-19 recovery will be high levels of vaccination for all in both developed and developing countries. However, there is vaccination gap. According to the World Bank around 27.6% of the global population has received at least one dose of a vaccine, but only 1.1% of those living in low-income countries have received a single dose of vaccine. Furthermore, research for a cure and more effective ways to contain COVID-19, especially with the emergence of new variants, are absolutely necessary to win the fight against COVID-19. In addition, society has to deepen its collective understanding of infectious diseases to minimise the risk of future pandemics. Moderator: Professor Dato’ Woo Wing Thye, President of Jeffrey Cheah Institute of Southeast Asia at Sunway University