South Korea calls on US to share Covid-19 jabs, repaying favor from start of pandemic, as only 3% of population inoculated

South Korea’s foreign minister has urged the US to repay a favor by sharing some of its vaccine supply with his country, noting that early in the pandemic Seoul airlifted Covid testing kits and masks to the US.

Speaking on Wednesday, South Korean Foreign Minister Chung Eui-yong told reporters that his country was counting on the US to help them out amid a very acute shortage of Covid-19 vaccines. “We have been stressing to the US that ‘a friend in need is a friend indeed,’” he stated. 

Chung said that, “in the spirit of the special South Korea-US alliance,” Seoul had airlifted masks and Covid-19 testing kits to Washington at the start of the pandemic. “We are hoping that the US will help us out with the challenges we are facing with the vaccines, based on the solidarity we demonstrated last year,” he added. 

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The minister also said that the two countries were in talks about South Korea contributing to the global semiconductor supply chain, which apparently has been well received by US President Joe Biden.

Only 3% of the country’s 51 million people have received at least one shot of a Covid-19 vaccine amid a global shortage of supply. The low inoculation rates come despite South Korea having vaccine-producing capacity in the country. SK Bioscience manufactures vaccines developed by AstraZeneca, while another local company will begin manufacturing Sputnik V in May. 

In comparison, more than 40% of the US population have received at least one dose.

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