President Biden’s recent meeting with Korean President Moon Jae-in in Washington—Biden’s second meeting with a foreign leader at the White House—demonstrates the long-standing relationship between the two nations as well as the importance of the Korea government to this administration. And it also produced a substantial new agreement between the two countries.

At the meeting, Presidents Biden and Moon announced a vaccine partnership that will both expand the manufacturing of vaccines as well as increase global supplies. The day following the White House meeting, pharma leaders Moderna and Novavax each agreed to manufacture their COVID-19 vaccines in South Korea as part of that deal with the government. 

Korea’s food and drug officials approved Moderna’s vaccine on the same day as the meeting, giving more than 40 million doses from Samsung Biologics to Korea. The following day, Novavax said it will partner with SK Bioscience to produce an addition 40 million doses of its vaccine for Korea.

“We will strengthen our ability to fight the pandemic and respond to future biological threats,” Biden said during a joint press conference with Moon following their White House meeting.

President Moon became only the second world leader that Biden has welcomed to Washington—the first was Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga the preceding month—underscoring the significance of Asia to this Administration and Korea as a lynchpin in efforts to counter China’s influence in the region. 

The agreement will help Korea meet its stated goal of reaching herd immunity by November of this year, delivering vaccinations to more than half-a-million members of the Korean military who are stationed alongside American troops in the region.

Having reached agreement with four vaccine manufacturers, Korea is emerging as a global vaccine production base, Vice Health Minister Kang Do-tae told reporters.

“The establishment of the South Korea-U.S. vaccine partnership is to build the basis for mass production of vaccines domestically by combining the advanced technology of the U.S. with production capabilities of South Korea,” said Kang.