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It’s time to discuss preparation for future pandemics

Since 2020, many countries in the world have faced with covid-19 and it has posed serious and unavoidable impacts on socio-economic development in many countries, either developed or developing.
The outbreak of Covid-19 has brought about challenges for the world governments in various dimensions, including health, economy, education, and politics.
It has caused larger difficulties for countries with small and fragile economy, such as the Lao PDR.
The COVID-19 pandemic and its containment measures severely affected livelihoods in the Lao PDR, according to the World Bank.
While the negative impacts of COVID-19 appear to be receding, Laos is facing new and emerging challenges, some as aftershocks of the pandemic. COVID-19 has created global inflationary pressures as a result of disrupted supply chains and rising food and fuel prices, which have been exacerbated by the situation in Ukraine.
As of Dec 22, 2022, the Lao PDR has accumulated more than 217,000 infected people and more than 670 deaths.
On Dec 23, the World Health Organisation (WHO) announced over 651 million of confirmed cases, and over 6.6 million confirmed deaths.
On Dec 25, the Lao PDR only recorded 13 new cases of infection. The new daily number did not cause fear, excitement, or panic, because the majority of Lao people, 74%, have received all recommended doses of Covid-19 vaccine and learned how to prevent and live with the disease.
With advanced medicine, the Republic of Korea is a partner of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic both under bilateral and multilateral frameworks including ASEAN-ROK.
ROK has sought ways to prevent the spread of the disease and has seized emerging opportunities to learn how to prepare for future health crisis. Made-in-Korea Covid vaccine SKYCovione is about to be submitted as a candidate for Emergency Use Listing (EUL) of WHO. Once listed by WHO, SKYCovione will be distributed through COVAX Facility for emergency use around the world.
On Dec 7, the 2nd Vaccine Cooperation Forum in the Indo-Pacific Region was held in Seoul, Korea under the theme of Strengthening Our Resilience and Preparedness for Future Pandemics. The forum was co-organised by ROK, Australia and the US.
During the meeting, the participants from ASEAN member countries exchanged points of view and shared their lessons on how their respective countries respond to Covid-19, coordination mechanisms, and the management of Covid-19 vaccines to meet public needs.
They presented initiatives, plans, cooperation mechanisms to promote Covid-19 response and vaccine production that meets the demands of ASEAN and global markets.
Addressing the opening ceremony, Mr. Cho Hyundong, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Korea, said that ASEAN and Korea, together with other partners in the Indo-Pacific, made impressive achievements in public health and vaccine cooperation as they collectively responded to the challenges of the COVID-19.
This valuable experience of solidarity and harmonized cooperation reinforced Korea’s commitment for greater contribution in the region. It is in this context that President Yoon Sukyeol announced Korea’s first-ever Indo-Pacific Strategy last month at the ASEAN-ROK Summit in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
Through greater engagement, Korea will actively contribute to building a free, peaceful and prosperous Indo-Pacific region. At the same meeting, President Yoon also presented the Korea-ASEAN Solidarity Initiative to emphasize ASEAN’s central role in the Indo-Pacific and Korea’s renewed commitment for enhanced partnership with ASEAN.
Both the overarching Indo-Pacific Strategy and the ASEAN-tailored initiative emphasize the importance of solidarity with friends and partners in the region that share values and principles. It is therefore no surprise that the key principles of Korea’s Indo-Pacific Strategy and the Korea-ASEAN Solidarity Initiative are well aligned with the underlying principles of the ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific.
Regionally, ASEAN quickly harnessed its collective efforts and launched the ASEAN COVID-19 Response Fund and the Regional Reserve of Medical Supplies making a rapid region-wide response possible.
ASEAN also took leadership in the region’s recovery by adopting the ASEAN Comprehensive Recovery Framework. On a global level, various new mechanisms, including the ACT-A, COVAX Facility and the Financial Intermediary Fund—better known as the Pandemic Fund—were put into motion to bolster health security capacities and improve coordination among countries.
Korea, a strong supporter of such regional and global efforts, committed 300 million USD to the ACT-A initiative this year, in addition to the 210 million USD to COVAX AMC. It was also one of the early contributors to the ASEAN COVID19 Response Fund providing 6 million USD towards ASEAN’s detection capabilities.
Moreover, recognizing the importance of sustained financing to strengthen preparedness for future pandemics, Korea also pledged 30 million USD to the Financial Intermediary Fund.
However, to achieve vaccine security, it is also crucial to invest in vaccine self-sufficiency, by strengthening manufacturing capabilities across the world.
Having successfully developed Korea’s first indigenous COVID-19 vaccine, the SKYCovione (스카이 코비원) Korea is also stepping up efforts to share our experience and know-how. As host country of WHO’s Global Biomanufacturing Workforce Training Hub, Korea has launched training on vaccine production processes since July.
To date, a total of 257 trainees from 38 countries across the Indo-Pacific have taken part in the programme.

Source: Lao News Agency