Experts from the European Union (EU) and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) convened today (8/12) to exchange best practices on policies and to identify further opportunities for collaboration on COVID-19 vaccines.
As two leading regional organisations, the EU and ASEAN share a common interest in pursuing a multilateral approach to an affordable, fair and equitable access to safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines.
The 23rd ASEAN-EU Ministerial Meeting on 1 December confirmed this commitment and vowed to continue to support vaccine multilateralism and provision of COVID-19 vaccines as global public goods. In line with its commitment to vaccine multilateralism, the EU contributed € 500 million in grants and guaranteed loans to support the COVAX Facility. COVAX aims to accelerate the development and manufacturing of COVID-19 vaccines and to guarantee fair and free equitable access for every country in the world. As of today, 189 economies are part of the COVAX Facility.
The cooperation on vaccines builds upon extensive assistance to Southeast Asia provided by the EU, most notably the € 800 million “Team Europe” package to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 in ASEAN. Last week, the EU announced a new € 20 million support programme on “South East Asia Health Pandemic Response and Preparedness”.
The online dialogue that took place today provided a platform for EU’s and ASEAN’s leading policy practitioners and medical experts for debating strategies and practical aspects of vaccine authorisation, production, and distribution in two separate panels.
“Working together in the prevention, detection and response to the virus, the ASEAN and EU have coordinated and cooperated at various levels and through various stakeholders in responding effectively to this pandemic,” said His Excellency Kung Phoak, the Deputy Secretary General of ASEAN for ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community. “This webinar dialogue on vaccine further deepens and facilitates innovations in health cooperation between ASEAN and EU, and further builds a robust relationship in the exchanges of policies towards affordable, fair and equitable access to safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines,” His Excellency added.
“Safe and effective vaccines have a key role to play in emerging from the COVID-19 crisis,” said Professor Peter Piot, Special Advisor to the President of the European Commission on COVID-19 and the Director of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine. “But no country is safe until every country is safe. EU-ASEAN collaboration and leadership is more important than ever in ensuring that everyone, everywhere can benefit from these vital tools,” he added.