Presidential torture by hopeThe government’s vaccine policy has flip-flopped for over a year due to its failure to buy Covid-19 vaccines early on. But its reluctance to accept responsibility with endless sophistry only makes the situation worse. Such an attitude coupled with a parade of empty promises — torture by hope — helps deepen public distrust in the government.
A case in point is the delayed vaccine supplies from Moderna. After a short trip to the headquarters of Moderna, Inc. in Cambridge, Massachusetts to help address its short supplies, a government delegation led by Vice Health Minister Kang Do-tae returned Monday. He said that Moderna apologized for the delay in supplies and promised to do its best to deliver more vaccines faster. The government plans to announce the results of the trip on Tuesday. But the announcement will likely be without substance as Moderna did not promise any better solutions.
The government’s vaccine policy fiascoes result from vaccine scarcity. After shipments of Moderna vaccines have been delayed four times, the four-week interval between two shots for people in their 50s was extended to six weeks. The vaccines for those aged between 18 and 49 also are in short supply. As a result, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency plans to vaccinate people in their 30s and 40s with the remaining AstraZeneca vaccines if they want. People in that age group denounce the sudden shift due to health risks. Their complaints are understandable as the British government recommended people under 40 get jabs other than AstraZeneca for fear of blood clots.
But President Moon Jae-in does not have a sense of reality. In a televised speech on the August 15 Liberation Day, he said, “Korea is overcoming the pandemic crisis in a more stable way than any other countries.” He went on to say that 70 percent of the entire population can have their second shots in October, one month earlier than he promised.
As Moon is still patting himself on the back without presenting any basis for his optimism, people are sick of his “torture by hope.” As of Sunday, less than 20 percent of the population had received their second shots. Given those who avoid vaccines and the younger generation not eligible for vaccination, it is not easy to inoculate 70 percent of the people by October. Nevertheless, the government is obsessed with herd immunity without any detailed explanations. It is not the time to come up with one sugar-coated promise after another to cover their previous mistakes.