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S. Korea did not feel the urgency to vaccinate citizens, says an expert

S. Korea did not feel the urgency to vaccinate citizens, says an expert

Posted June. 07, 2021 07:21,   

Updated June. 07, 2021 07:21


“Deadly pathogens could trigger a global health crisis,” said Fareed Zakaria (57, photo), an international politics expert in his CNN program “Fareed Zakaria GPS” in June 2017. In less than three years, his warning became a reality – the COVID-19 pandemic. He emphasized cooperation between countries in the post-pandemic world in his book “Ten Lessons for a Post-Pandemic World” published in April. He says the world should expand multilateralism and public services to alleviate the bipolarization issue that the pandemic aggravated.

Let’s look at his opinion on Korea’s response on the virus. “Korea realized the seriousness of the biological threat and quickly responded,” he recently said in a written interview with the Dong-A Ilbo. “In August when I was writing this book, COVID-19 was spreading very slowly in Korea. Its quarantine results were as good as other countries.”

He cited Korea’s culture of accepting social control as the reason of successful initial quarantine measures. “East Asia’s comparatively strict culture brought success in quarantine. This, in turn, explains why the quarantine of comparatively loose Western countries was less successful than expected.” However good the quarantine policy of a government is, it is useless if people do not trust and follow it.

He analyzed that Korea’s national capacity built from gradual democratization and economic modernization in the late 20th century also contributed to its success. “Korea is a peninsula, but it is no different from an island (because it is blocked off from North Korea). Island countries with no land borders such as Taiwan, Australia and New Zealand were largely successful in quarantine.”

But these countries are recording lower vaccination rate compared to the U.S., the U.K. and others. “In countries that had an overall victory in the war against the virus like Korea, both governments and people did not feel the urgency,” he said. Countries that failed in the initial response such as the U.S. bet life and death on vaccination, but Korea and other successful countries did not. “Korea failed to play a central role in developing global vaccine and had to struggle alone,” he said.

Then, what is the solution for the future? He suggested Korea to quickly secure vaccines and encourage its people to get shots. He took an example of the U.S. that vaccinates citizens everywhere including small pharmacies, stadiums and even subway stations. “In the U.S. religious leaders encouraged believers to get vaccinated,” he said. “A promise to go back to the normal life is a strong incentive for vaccination.”