By Lee Hana
President Moon Jae-in and seven other world leaders said in an op-ed published by The Washington Post on July 15 that the world must guarantee equal, global access to a COVID-19 vaccine.
Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven reportedly set the op-ed in motion, bringing together the heads of state from his nation and Korea as well as Canada, New Zealand, Spain, Ethiopia, South Africa and Tunisia.
The eight leaders agreed that international cooperation was crucial to ensuring a fair and transparent response to the pandemic, Cheong Wa Dae said in a news release.
On vaccine development, the op-ed said, "This cannot be a race with one winner. When one or more vaccines are successful, it must be a win for all of us."
"We cannot allow access to vaccines to increase inequalities within or between countries – whether low-, middle- or high-income."
It added, "We must urgently ensure that vaccines will be distributed according to a set of transparent, equitable and scientifically sound principles. Where you live should not determine whether you live, and global solidarity is central to saving lives and protecting the economy."
"A managed flow of the vaccine —including for humanitarian settings and other vulnerable countries such as the least developed countries and small island developing states— is the wise and strategic course of action and will benefit countries across the world."
The op-ed recognized the World Health Organization as the world's leading health agency and lauded the United Nations for its leadership, Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance for its efforts and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations for providing access to vaccine development tools. It also acknowledged the role of the Seoul-based International Vaccine Institute in making vaccines available to and accessible for vulnerable people in developing countries.
The op-ed concluded by urging global leaders "to commit to contributing to an equitable distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine, based on the spirit of a greater freedom for all."
Cheong Wa Dae said it believes President Moon co-writing the op-ed would highlight Korea's successful response to the pandemic and its role in the global fight against COVID-19.