[Photo by Lee Chung-woo]
South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Monday confirmed that enhancing vaccine partnership is one of key agenda during his first meeting with U.S. President Joe Biden later this week at a time when South Korea is grappling with slow Covid-19 vaccination rate amid a supply shortage.
“I will use this visit to the U.S. as an opportunity to strengthen cooperation on vaccine (rollouts) and pave the way (for our country) to become a global hub for vaccine production," Moon said during a weekly meeting with his senior aides at Cheong Wa Dae, adding that his government will make every effort to speed up the return to normalcy.
Moon’s comment comes after his chief policy secretary Lee Ho-seung told a local radio station last week that securing a “vaccine partnership” with Washington would be a top priority for the summit. Moon is scheduled to hold summit talks with Biden at the White House on Friday (local time).
During the summit, the two leaders are expected to discuss solutions that can address Korea’s vaccine shortage, including a potential `vaccine swap` and Korea’s Covid-19 vaccine production through technology transfer with U.S. companies.
The Moon administration aims to provide one quarter of the population with coronavirus vaccine shots before the second half of this year to achieve herd immunity by November. To achieve this goal, Korea needs to secure a stable supply of vaccines from U.S. companies.
South Korea is also pinning its hopes on its advanced CMO and CDMO capacity, as it is seeking to emerge as a global vaccine production hub.
As U.S. vaccine developer Moderna is expected to officially announce a production plan for its advanced mRNA-based Covid-19 vaccine in Korea during Moon’s visit to the U.S. for the summit, the Moon administration’s plan to make Korea as a global vaccine hub would gain traction. It would be the fourth Covid-19 jab to be produced in Korea following AstraZeneca, Novavax and Russia’s Sputnik V vaccines.
Regarding the domestic economy, Moon said his administration will go all out to achieve at least 4 percent growth in the gross domestic product in 2021, reiterating that Asia`s fourth-biggest economy is making a "strong rebound."
Moon also stressed creating jobs is a top priority to ensure a return to pre-Covid-19 levels or better.
By Lim Sung-hyun and Minu Kim
[ⓒ Pulse by Maeil Business Newspaper & mk.co.kr, All rights reserved]