Secure vaccines fastThe liveliness of the Israeli people shows it all. After getting Covid-19 vaccinations, they are enjoying outdoor parties without wearing face masks. Due to quarantine failures in the early stages, 830,000 Israelis were tested positive and over 6,000 died. But after 57.3 percent of the people were inoculated twice thanks to their government’s swift purchase of vaccines, the country is fast returning to normal.
Overseas travel is also recovering fast among countries who grabbed Covid-19 vaccines in the initial stages. Australia and New Zealand have allowed their citizens to travel to the other by exempting visitors from self-quarantine through so-called “travel bubble.” An increasing number of countries also have started issuing “vaccine passports,” or vaccine certificates.
Such news is just a pipe dream for Korean people as the vaccination rate is still less than 3 percent of the population. Whenever safety issues arose over Janssen and AstraZeneca vaccines, the government changed its inoculation schedule, not to mention uncertain supplies of Moderna and Novavax vaccines. They only deepen public skepticism about the government’s promise of herd immunity by November.
The situation has worsened as Gyeonggi Gov. Lee Jae-myung announced the province’s own plan to import vaccines. New Seoul Mayor Oh Se-hoon jumped on the bandwagon to take a different approach from the central government to battle the virus.
Japan said it has secured enough vaccines for all Japanese to get a shot by September after Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga’s consultation with Pfizer on the sidelines of his summit with U.S. President Joe Biden at the White House. Whenever such news breaks, Korean people are forced to wonder what about them. Sadly, a Korean resident in Israel expressed regret over critical shortages of vaccines in his homeland. We hope President Moon Jae-in’s decision to set up an office handling quarantine strategies offers a glimmer of hope in the battle against the pandemic. Its first head Ki Mo-ran, a preventive medicine expert at the National Cancer Center, should not repeat her frivolous remarks as in the past. “Korea’s vaccinations are not very late,” she said. Moon must obtain sufficient vaccines for the people before and after his trip to Washington for a summit with Biden late May.
Korea was an exemplary country battling the virus thanks to the cooperation of citizens on wearing masks, a hard-earned lesson from the MERS outbreak. But Korea’s belated vaccination campaign effectively effaced the reputation. Moon must not make Korea a country whose people have to wear masks to the last.