President Moon Jae-in (Yonhap)
WASHINGTON -- South Korean President Moon Jae-in and seven other world leaders on Wednesday called for equal global access to coronavirus vaccines.
The leaders wrote in an opinion piece published in The Washington Post that immunization is the key to ending the COVID-19 pandemic but only if all countries get access to the vaccine.
"At this point in time, with almost 200 potential covid-19 vaccine candidates currently at different stages of development, there is hope that soon one or more will prove to be both safe and effective," they wrote.
"What happens next is equally important. This cannot be a race with one winner. When one or more vaccines are successful, it must be a win for all of us," they said.
The piece was jointly authored by Moon, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Ethiopian President Sahle-Work Zewde, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez Perez-Castejon, Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven and Tunisian Prime Minister Elyes Fakhfakh.
In issuing the call, the leaders particularly noted the disproportionate affects the pandemic has had on poor and vulnerable populations.
"We cannot allow access to vaccines to increase inequalities within or between countries -- whether low-, middle- or high-income," they said. "A future covid-19 vaccine can be instrumental in our commitment to achieve one of the key elements in the United Nations' sustainable development goals: ensuring healthy lives and promoting well-being for all at all ages."
The leaders acknowledged that manufacturing enough vaccines for the global population will take time and stressed the importance of cooperation to ensure no one is left behind.
Vaccines must be distributed according to a set of transparent, equitable and scientifically sound principles, they said.
"Where you live should not determine whether you live, and global solidarity is central to saving lives and protecting the economy," the leaders wrote. "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 leaders recognized the roles of existing initiatives aimed at securing vaccine availability, including the COVID-19 Vaccine Global Access (COVAX) Facility, Gavi (the Vaccine Alliance) and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI).
They also noted the roles of the World Health Organization and the International Vaccine Institute.
"A successfully managed vaccine distribution will also be a cornerstone of strengthening multilateralism for the future -- as was the Security Council resolution on covid-19 drafted by France and Tunisia, demanding a global cease-fire in armed conflicts -- and an important step toward coming back stronger together," the leaders wrote.
"We call on 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." (Yonhap)