Buy more vaccinesSince two Koreans have been infected with the Delta Plus variant of the coronavirus, “breakthrough” infections are becoming the new worry for the country. Breakthrough infections refer to cases of a fully vaccinated person catching the coronavirus. Both of the patients infected with Delta Plus were vaccinated.
Due to this emerging threat, the government must buy enough Covid-19 vaccines to give people booster shots from next year onwards. The Moon Jae-in administration could not purchase additional vaccines over the past 100 days except for the 40 million doses of Pfizer vaccines it ordered in April. We wonder what lessons the government really learned after its vaccine fiasco last year.
The Delta Plus variant could spread even faster — and possibly have stronger resistance against vaccines — than the Delta variant. But medical professionals do not have information yet on the risks and transferability. Instead, they emphasize the importance of additional jabs next year and beyond because vaccines are only effective for about six months.
Major developed countries are busy getting additional vaccines for booster shots. France began vaccinating its people with a third jab from July and Israel expanded it to all adults starting August. The UK plans to offer a third shot to 30 million citizens from September and Japan from next year.
Korea has a long way to go. Only 13.9 percent of the people have received their second shots so far. The stunningly slow vaccination pace — 104th in the world — originated from a critical mismatch between demand and supply. The government plans to give booster shots with vaccines it ordered for 100 million persons, but does not have any plan to get additional vaccines for next year. The government only reiterates it is in the early stages of negotiation with global vaccine producers.
A government official has mentioned the need to develop vaccines on our own given our lack of leverage over producers. That is just a pipe dream if the government believes it can develop “K-vaccines” by offering minor subsidies to a number of companies.
In a Blue House meeting with aides Monday, Moon finally expressed concerns about vaccine supplies. Yet it is not the time to find fault with the efficacy of vaccines. The government must buy vaccines preemptively.
In the meeting, Moon boasted that Korea shows the lowest fatality rate of 2.13 percent from the virus. Can he really pat himself on the back even as 200,000 people were infected and 2,104 of them died? The government must get serious and order sufficient vaccines immediately.