South Korean President Moon Jae-in has said his country will provide $200 million in aid through next year for equitable access of COVID-19 vaccines in lower-income countries.
President Moon, during a plenary session on health during a Group of Seven Summit, vowed to offer $100 million in grants this year.
Another $100 million will be given next year to the COVAX Advance Market Commitment, a financing framework made to have COVID-19 vaccines available at lower cost than usual in more than 90 developing countries with comparatively low incomes.
Moon was invited to attend the summit as a guest alongside his counterparts from Australia, India and South Africa, according to The Korea Herald.
Moon attended the plenary session with other guests to join the leaders of G-7 members, as well as chiefs of the World Health Organization, the World Trade Organization, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.
The presidential office said the commitment will spur South Korea’s role as a global vaccine hub while it seeks partnerships with other G-7 nations.
Participants including Moon also discussed ways to cooperate on creating global public health governance and increase support for equitable medical access to nations to prepare for future public health threats, Moon’s office added.
During his visit, Moon also met with Pascal Soriot, executive director and CEO of the Britain-based AstraZeneca, to reaffirm the importance of continued cooperation in global production and supply of COVID-19 vaccines.
In the 27-minute long meeting, Moon pledged to actively cooperate with the international community to ensure enough COVID-19 vaccines are provided globally, according to the presidential office.
Cheong Wae Dae said Moon thanked Soriot for his company’s active role in the COVID-19 outbreak, saying its vaccine has been a core part of Korea’s vaccination campaign that kicked off in February. Korea aims to complete vaccination of 14 million people by the end of this month.
“AstraZeneca’s vaccine is unique for us in that it the first (COVID-19) vaccine inoculated in South Korea and is the most used vaccine,” Moon was quoted as saying.
“Koreans could receive the vaccine with relief as it was produced locally with SK’s technology transfer. This has also played an important first step for Korea to become a global vaccine production hub.”
More than 60 percent of those who have received their first jabs here were ones developed by the British pharmaceutical firm.
As of Saturday’s end, close to 8 million people in Korea have gotten their first COVID-19 shots from AstraZeneca, followed by 3.26 million from Pfizer.
SK Group subsidiary SK Bioscience has been producing AstraZeneca’s vaccine domestically through a contract manufacturing deal.
Moon also asked Soriot to provide continued support so as to ensure a steady supply of its vaccines for the latter half of the year, Moon’s office said.
The AstraZeneca CEO also expressed appreciation for Korea’s role in the COVAX facility, as vaccines produced in the country have been provided to 75 nations within the coalition, the office added.