South Korea in Covid-19 surge: Vaccine immunity waning among the elderly

South Korea in Covid-19 surge: Vaccine immunity waning among the elderly

Kanako Mita and Sawako Utsumi

Modern Tokyo Times

The coronavirus (Covid-19) crisis in South Korea is reaching a critical period. Hence, with daily infections surpassing 7,000 for the first time, the health care system is coming under enormous strain.

Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum, said, “In the Greater Seoul area, where nearly 80 percent of the total confirmed cases are concentrated, we are securing hospital beds with the help of medical staff, but it is hard to catch up with the increase in speed of new cases.”

Deaths from the coronavirus remain low throughout Northeast Asia (excluding the Russian Federation). Thus the death toll of approximately 4,000 in South Korea is low by European, North American, and South American standards. However, alarm bells are ringing because of the ongoing critical situation by South Korean standards.

President Moon Jae-in and the Prime Minister are worried about the sustainability of the health care system. This notably applies to the Greater Seoul area that accounts for roughly 80 percent of all recent cases. Likewise, concern persists to the financial burdens of the coronavirus.

The Korean Herald reports, “To support at-home care, the government will give extra relief grants to families with breakthrough COVID-19 cases or patients aged 18 or under. A four-person household, for example, will be granted 1.36 million won ($1,200) to cover their living expenses for 10 days.”

Of special concern, is that over 60 percent of newly confirmed cases were breakthrough coronavirus infections in Seoul. Therefore, with many elderly vaccinated people in hospital and suffering at home, it appears that the vaccine efficacy is waning among the elderly.

Reuters reports, “Infections in South Korea have skyrocketed this month after the government began to ease restrictions under a so-called “living with COVID-19” scheme in November.”

The adult vaccine rate of 91.8 percent in South Korea is very high. Hence, coronavirus restrictions have recently been lifted. However, with the majority of the elderly being vaccinated for the first time in February and March, it is abundantly clear that vaccine efficacy is declining more sharply than anticipated.


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