SEOUL (Reuters) – South Korea’s new President Yoon Suk-yeol pledged on Thursday to provide an additional $300 million won to a global initiative to fund COVID-19 tests, treatments and vaccines for poorer countries.
Yoon made the announcement in his speech to a second global COVID-19 summit, held virtually, aimed at facilitating efforts to end the pandemic and prepare for future health threats.
His funding pledge would bring South Korea’s total donations to the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-A), sponsored by the World Health Organization (WHO) and other aid groups, to $510 million.
“We will lend support to the international community’s efforts to end COVID-19,” Yoon said in the speech.
“We will additionally contribute $300 million, and help secure sufficient supplies of vaccines for those who are in urgent need, and their safe, rapid administration.”
Yoon also showed support for the establishment of a financial intermediary fund, a global project pushed by the United States and Indonesia to boost pandemic preparedness, and provisionally agreed on by G20 countries last month.
The speech marks Yoon’s first attendance at a multilateral conference of world leaders, after he took office on Tuesday.
The summit, jointly hosted by the United States, Belize, Germany, Indonesia and Senegal, came hours after North Korea confirmed its first outbreak of COVID-19.
The ACT-A programme is seeking a $23.4 billion budget for its work until September, but leaders of the initiative said in February that just $814 million has been pledged.
It is also backed by organisations including the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, the Global Fund, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
(Reporting by Hyonhee Shin; Additional reporting by Soo-hyang Choi; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky and Hugh Lawson)