South Korea is one of the few countries that has effectively faced the COVID-19 pandemic. Today, however, Koreans are criticizing the government’s failure to secure enough vaccines.
Amid growing public distrust of the vaccine rollout, the government announced during an emergency meeting on April 24 that it had decided to purchase enough additional coronavirus vaccine to inject it. 20 million people are from Pfizer, the US pharmaceutical company.
Kwon Deok-cheol, Korea’s Minister of Health and Welfare, announced during a press conference that the government will introduce vaccines to 50 million people from Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Novavax and Janssen, in September to promote pushed the achievement of “herd inoculation” in November. That includes additional contracts with Pfizer. South Korea has a total population of about 51 million people, including children under the age of 16, who have not yet received any vaccines.
The government signed the first contract with Pfizer to give 10 million injections to 10 million people in December 2020 and ensure additional vaccines for 3 million people by February this year. Under the additional contract, Korea is now securing the supply of Pfizer vaccines to a total of 33 million people.
Kwon explained that the price of the vaccine in the replenishment contract was the same as on previous contracts and added that the Pfizer vaccine has been available on a regular basis every week since the first shipment on March 24. Having signed contracts with other countries, Kwon mentioned that the company promised to deliver all the vaccines under the contract with South Korea this year.
The government says the new Pfizer vaccine is expected to hit the market starting July, and that other newly purchased vaccines will also be available from the same month.
Combining all the contracts with different manufacturers, the Korean government bought enough vaccines for 99 million people – almost double the total population of the country and about 2.75 times the vaccination target to create herd immunity. However, some are still questioning when to achieve the goal of herd immunity, arguing that the government’s delay in implementing the vaccine in the first half of 2021 will make it impossible to complete.
Critics say South Korea’s plan to vaccinate 20% of South Korea’s 51 million population by June faces uncertainty over how to secure vaccines in place and on time. And the number of confirmed cases on a daily basis, continuously increasing and decreasing in recent weeks, is one of the causes of public distrust and anxiety.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in on April 26 asked politicians not to politicize the government and quarantine officials’ efforts to secure vaccines after some lawmakers from the opposition side. main setting. arguments of questionable origin are cited Herd’s immunity may not be attained for more than six years. Along with Moon’s remarks, Hong Nam-ki, acting prime minister, said during a briefing that day that the government would be able to vaccinate 1.5 million people a day by May.
The government plans to introduce other vaccines from Novavax, Moderna and Janssen within the first half of the year to speed up the vaccination process. However, even as the plan unfolds, young Koreans and not working in the public sector are unlikely to be vaccinated in the first half of this year.
On that basis, critics argue that the government has lagged behind in securing and purchasing vaccines.
Roh Kyung-ho, a professor of laboratory medicine at National Health Insurance Service’s Ilsan Hospital, told The Diplomat that the government may not feel as urgent as the United States and the United Kingdom, the two nations. inoculation rates were out of the question. After all, South Korea’s daily confirmed morbidity and mortality rates are much lower than those of the world.
“The percentage of confirmed cases in Korea is still around 0.002 percent, while other countries like the United States and the UK are recording over 10 percent. I think that was the main reason the government was not so urgent and desperate about securing the vaccine last year, ”said Roh.
Critics also expressed concern that the government was too optimistic about supply conditions in the third quarter. The government has pledged that Pfizer and other vaccines will be offered as planned, but as with many other countries – such as the United States, the European Union and Australia – have signed a contract for the scale vaccines. With Pfizer earlier than South Korea, it remains unclear whether the dosage will be properly delivered in July.
“There is one uncertainty… We may not be able to get vaccines on time from pharmaceutical companies because the US and UK have shown their intention to stop companies from exporting vaccines to other companies,” Roh said. another country, ”said Roh. The professor added that this is an important time for the Korean government to continue to negotiate and liaise with companies to secure vaccines.
If things don’t go as planned, it will be a challenge for the government to reach its herd immunity goal in November.
While criticism and disappointment have grown towards the government, some have offered to release Samsung’s heir, Lee Jae-yong, from prison to capitalize on his relationship with the government. Presidents of pharmaceutical companies to get enough vaccines ahead of time. In a recent poll, 70 percent of the respondents Supported release from prison. However, Moon is unlikely to forgive him. Lee is expected to be released from prison next July and will likely spend longer in prison depending on the results of other trials.
In addition, 49 percent of the respondents to speak According to a recent poll, the government is not handling the virus well. This is the first time negative public feedback outperforms positive ratings for the Moon administration since the coronavirus outbreak started last year. Slow vaccine rollouts and increasing number of confirmed new cases are the main reasons for public criticism of the government, experts say.
“I believe many Koreans praise the government’s efforts and react promptly to keep us safe from the pandemic but I don’t understand why we are lagging behind in vaccine deployments,” Bae Yong-kuk, 45, a small business owner in Seoul, told The Diplomat. “People want to get vaccinated early, but it seems that most people need to wait until September or October to get it. So I sincerely want the government to know that I and the other small business owners are [trapped] In one corner of the factories closed and we couldn’t survive until the collapse if we had to keep living like this. “