[Research report] A situational analysis of Equitable Access to COVID-19 Technologies in South Korea

People’s Health Movement Korea (PHM Korea hereafter) and its solidarity network conducted a project called Equitable Access for COVID-19 Technologies (EACT) organized by the People’s Health Movement (PHM) and supported by the Open Society Foundations from July 2020 to June 2021. The purpose of this report is that (1) identify key lessons and challenges doing health activism amid COVID-19 for other activists and solidarity groups and (2) measure technology issues and access to medicines in South Korea along with the indicator of COVID-19. Both goals supplement PHM’s long term visions for Health for All.

Drawing from the situational analysis, the main findings of this report consist of two parts: (1) EACT Korea as health activism and (2) EACT Korea as evidence and data production.

Regarding EACT Korea as activism, our actions and campaigns are summarised in the following:

  • When EACT Korea first started in July 2020, members of EACT Korea continued campaigns for intellectual property (IP) issues along with global Access to Medicines (A2M) actions in the middle of the COVID-19 outbreak.
  • Starting from October 2020, EACT Korea conducted rising campaigns to support a proposal to waive several sections of the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS Waiver proposal hereafter).
  • Since the WTO announced ‘a third way’ to broaden access to COVID-19 technologies via technology transfer and voluntary licensing, EACT Korea adhered to the solidarity with the TRIPS Waiver actions instead of shifting main strategies for local manufacturing and technology transferring.

Regarding EACT Korea as evidence-making, the findings we have been able to draw by delving into the topic of EACT are as follows:

  • EACT Korea conducted situational case studies on public research and development (R&D hereafter) in South Korea, Korean pharma and bio firms related to COVID-19 technologies, and public manufacturing in Korea.
  • The EACT Korea campaigners also produced a number of analyses of the TRIPS Waiver Proposal in the relation to suggestions for the Korean government and Korean companies, research institutes, academia, and civil society.

In sum, this report put importance on the push for both global solidarity and research activities for equitable access to COVID-19 related tools and technologies, as well as for overcoming IP barriers in the future.



  1. Overview 1
  2. Introduction 2
  3. Methods 3
  4. Situational campaigns for EACT 4
    1. Stage 1: Continuing IP & A2M actions in South Korea (July 2020 – October 2020) 4
    2. Stage 2: Blooming of the Korean advocacy for India-South Africa TRIPS Waiver (October 2020 – February 2021) 7
    3. Stage 3: Standing with the TRIPS Waiver Proposal (February 2021 – June 2021) 10
      1. Wave 1 11
      2. Wave 2 12
  5. Situational case studies on Korean pharmaceutical systems and A2M amid COVID-19 17
    1. Public R&D in South Korea (January, 2021) 17
    2. Korean firm Celltrion’s Regkirona (From November 2020 to February 2021) 18
    3. The TRIPS Waiver Proposal and Korean societies (March 2021) 20
    4. The COVID-19 diagnostic kits industry in South Korea (June 2021) 21
    5. Public manufacturing in South Korea (July 2021) 22
    6. Equitable vaccine distributions for the marginalized population in Korea (From January 2021 to April 2021) 24
  6. Concluding notes 25
  7. Annexes 26


File download:

[EACT Korea Final Report] A situational analysis of Equitable Access to COVID-19 Technologies in South Korea

[EACT Global Project Report] Promoting Equitable Access to Essential Health Technologies in the context of COVID-19 in three pilot countries: India, South Africa and South Korea