[Photo by Pakr Hyung-ki]
South Korea is among the slowest in the developed category in its vaccine program and may not achieve herd immunity as hoped in the second half even as other countries are ready to open borders and return to pre-Covid-19 life, data showed.
According to scientific online publication Our World in Data (OWID) on Monday, Korea has administered 1.93 doses of Covid-19 vaccination per 100 people, coming to 35 in the progress in vaccine program among 37 members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).
Korean government figures showed that a total 990,094 people were vaccinated as of Monday, including both first and second shots, meaning that 26,055 people were inoculated on a daily average since the country initiated vaccine program on February 26.
The Korean government earlier envisioned having 12 million people inoculated their first dose by June, but progress has been slow due to shortage of vaccines.
Korea signed a contract to bring in vaccines for 56 million people and is working on securing additional shots for 20 million people.
But it so far has secured vaccines for 1.35 million people for the first quarter and 7.2 million people for the second. It remains unclear whether Korea would be able to supply vaccines for 500,000 people in the April-June period due to uncertainty in the deliveries from Janssen, Moderna, and Novavax.
[Photo by Yonhap]
“The dillydallying from the government has brought about the catastrophe, “ said Jung Ki-suck, former director of Korea Centers for Disease Control and professor of pulmonary, allergy and critical care medicine at Hallym University Medical Center.
The active and working population from 20s to 40s should have been first to inoculated to effectively mitigate the spread and normalize the society, other experts argued.
Hong Sok-chul, professor at Seoul National University, presented a research report last month that inoculating self-employed workers and those in the 20 to 40 age group would help economy recovery. He mentioned Korea has a decent Covid-19 counter measure system as to the United States and Europe and has lower death rate. Focus should be on preventing infection spread among young people and early economic recovery rather than reducing the number of deaths from the infection, he advised.
Still, the government keeps to strict mitigation strategy.
The number of virus infection cases in Korea reached 473 as of Monday, falling below 500 in six days after 447 on March 30. The government is expected to announce its latest social distancing measures on Friday.
By Lim Sung-hyun, Park Yoon-gyun, and Lee Eun-joo
[ⓒ Pulse by Maeil Business Newspaper & mk.co.kr, All rights reserved]