PH joins global push for universal access to vaccines

SEOUL, South Korea — The Philippines on Wednesday, Dec. 7, joined global efforts in pushing for free and universal access to Covid-19 and other vaccines as new sub-variants of the coronavirus continue to emerge around the world.

VACCINE COOPERATION FORUM - Philippine Ambassador to South Korea Maria Theresa Dizon-De Vega (2nd from right) with Dr. Tore Godal, GAVI founding CEO (left), Australian Ambassador Catherine Raper (2nd from left), and Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Hyundong Cho (3rd from left) and other health experts from South Korea, the US, Australia, and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. (

“We have maintained the Philippines’ position that vaccines are for the global good, the public good,” said Maria Theresa Dizon-De Vega, Philippine Ambassador to the Republic of Korea.

Dizon-De Vega joined top officials from South Korea, the United States, Australia, and member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in the 2nd Vaccine Cooperation Forum in the Indo-Pacific region held at the Lotte Hotel here on Wednesday, Dec. 7.

The forum gathered health experts in a bid to strengthen global resilience and preparedness for future pandemics.

Hyundong Cho, Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs, said the Korean government is hosting a series of meetings to promote cooperation and partnership in building a safer and more prosperous Indo-Pacific region.

Dizon-De Vega said Department of Health (DOH) Officer-in-Charge Undersecretary Ma. Rosario Vergeire was in Seoul last week to represent the Philippines in the global health security ministerial meeting.

The meeting assessed the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and similar public health issues.

Dizon-De Vera said that as the Philippines prepares for the establishment of its own Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Virology Institute, another area of cooperation has emerged between South Korea and the Philippines as the Korea CDC has an advanced public health management system similar to the US CDC.

She added that aside from South Korea, the Philippine government, through the DOH and the Department of Foreign Affairs, is in constant engagements with its partners throughout the Indo-Pacific region on best practices sharing, human capacity building, and soft infrastructure building necessary to manage public health emergencies and concerns.

Dr. Tore Godal, founding CEO of Gavi, the vaccine alliance, said the 2nd Vaccine Cooperation Forum, organized by Korea’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs with the US and Australian governments, is “extremely important as it promotes and illustrates the importance of regionalization in terms of vaccine development and manufacturing.” South Korea has developed its own Covid-19 vaccine called the Sky Covione which is expected to receive Emergency Use Authorization from the World Health Organization this month. It is also working on bivalent vaccines against Covid-19 in SK Bioscience facilities.

The DOH aims to move out of the pandemic and ensure health care for all with the creation of CDC through Senate Bill No. 2505 or the Philippine Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Act which will establish the Centers for Health Statistics, Surveillance and Epidemiology, Health Evidence, and Reference Laboratories.