APEC leaders vow to speed up entry to COVID-19 vaccines

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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A woman holds a small bottle labelled with a “Coronavirus COVID-19 Vaccine” sticker and a medical syringe in this illustration taken October 30, 2020. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/File Photo

(Fixes typo in headline)

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – World leaders said in a statement issued after a virtual meeting of the Asia-Pacific trade group APEC that extensive COVID-19 immunization is a global public good and accelerating access to vaccines is essential to overcoming the crisis.

In a statement posted on the APEC website after a virtual meeting hosted by New Zealand, the leaders of the 21-member grouping vowed to redouble efforts to expand vaccine manufacture and supply and said they would continue to support economies for as long as necessary.

U.S. President Joe Biden, Russia’s Vladimir Putin, China’s Xi Jinping and other world leaders took part in the meeting seeking collective actions to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic impacts.

In the statement, the leaders also said they would encourage voluntary transfer of vaccine production technology on mutually agreed terms and said that they must pave the way for safe resumption of cross-border travel, but “without undermining efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19.”

“The pandemic continues to have a devastating impact on our region’s people and economies,” the statement said.

“We will only overcome this health emergency by accelerating equitable access to safe, effective, quality-assured, and affordable COVID-19 vaccines,” it said.

“We recognize the role of extensive immunization against COVID-19 as a global public good. To that end, we will redouble our efforts to expand vaccine manufacture and supply, support global vaccine sharing efforts, and encourage the voluntary transfer of vaccine production technologies on mutually agreed terms,” the statement added. https://www.apec.org/Meeting-Papers/Leaders-Declarations/2021/2021_ILR

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