What They Said is a regular series on the quotes Korea is talking about.
Suwon mayor pleads for mitigation of Covid-19 measures
On September 17, 2021, Suwon Mayor Yum Tae-young appeared on Kim Hyun-jung’s News Show on CBS and argued for the mitigation of Covid-19 measures:
Currently, the situation is very different from the start of the Covid-19 outbreak. Initially, we didn’t know exactly how strong the coronavirus was. So there was no other way than to do everything possible to stop the spread.
In our country’s case, it has been a year and seven or eight months since the first case of the coronavirus was confirmed. We have accumulated a lot of relevant data. Looking at the data, initially, the number of confirmed cases and the fatality rate moved more or less in the same direction. But now, since vaccination started, things have changed. Regardless of the increase in the number of confirmed cases, the fatality rate continues to fall. While the fatality rate was 2.87% in March last year, as of September it is 0.06%. So, if you look at the number of daily confirmed cases alone, it is twice as high as last year’s pandemic, but the fatality rate is much lower.
When the risk drops to the level of flu, we can’t maintain the current social distancing measures and keep putting the self-employed and small business owners on death row. Since the situation has changed, my position is that we need to change the prevention paradigm. …
I’m not saying, “It’s only as bad as the flu.” When you look at the current state of vaccination in [Suwon], out of 970,000 residents who are eligible for vaccination, the number of those who have received the first dose is now over 780,000, over 80%. The percentage of people who have received the second dose is close to 20%. At present, from a medical point of view, efforts to reduce the number of confirmed cases are still important. And it cannot be said that such a policy judgment is fundamentally wrong.
However, as the extent of damage has spread throughout society, I’m saying that it is time to make a comprehensive assessment of the situation that also considers social and economic perspectives. It’s not that the flu isn’t dangerous, but, even taking that into consideration, I believe that we need to thoroughly review forcing people to sacrifice in the same way now, since the vaccination rate is so high and the fatality rate is so low.
— Yum Tae-young, mayor of Suwon, September 17, 2021.
Moon Jae-in proudly announces the vaccination of 70% of the South Korean population
On Friday, September 17, South Korean President Moon Jae-in announced on Facebook that 70% of the nation’s population have received at least the first dose of a Covid vaccine. Considering that South Korea was late to the game in acquiring vaccine supplies, this was a huge feat.
First dose, 36 million people.
Within 204 days of the start of inoculation, 70% of the total population have received the first dose.
This is a record pace among OECD member countries, aside from Iceland, which has a population of 340,000.
This is an amazing rate.
With unrivaled speed, the Republic of Korea has shown its potential in vaccination as well.
It is all thanks to our country’s excellent inoculation infrastructure, the dedication of the medical staff, and the high rate of people’s awareness of participation.
Thank you once again.
Now, we are moving toward an 80% inoculation rate, and soon we will become a global leader in the full vaccination rate.
If we increase the inoculation rate while taking appropriate prevention measures at the same time, as we are doing now, the hope for a gradual recovery of daily life will certainly grow.
For small business owners and self-employed people who are having a difficult time due to the prolonged coronavirus pandemic, I offer my condolences and encouragement.
I am well aware of your difficulties.
Although the first dose of vaccination alone does not solve the problem, things will improve little by little, if we hasten with the second dose.
The government is doing its best, so please, hang on a little longer.
I hope you stay strong and hopeful,
I hope you have a wonderful Chuseok with encouragement and hope for each other.
— Moon Jae-in, president of the Republic of Korea, September 17, 2021.
Ahn Cheol-soo criticizes Moon Jae-in’s announcement about Korea’s vaccination efforts
As of September 16, 40.3% of the country’s population have been fully vaccinated (either by receiving single-dose vaccinations or both doses of double-dose vaccinations). In terms of completed vaccinations, the country ranked 17th out of 38 OECD member states on September 15, 2021.
Korean media outlets and the opposition party have criticized the Moon administration’s slow efforts to acquire vaccine supplies, and Ahn Cheol-soo, leader of the People Party, also voiced his criticism:
After my volunteer work, I heard the news that President Moon Jae-in had said “70% of the people have received the first dose of vaccine. This is the fastest record achieved in the shortest time among OECD member countries except Iceland. This is an astonishing speed of inoculation.”
I was dumbfounded.
Emphasizing the first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine is deceiving the public.
The first dose does not create proper protection.
It is necessary to receive a second dose to minimize infection, severity of illness, and death.
Therefore, it is obvious that the goal should be to increase the rate of second shots.
Nevertheless, President Moon continues to emphasize the first dose vaccination rate so as not to be criticized for not purchasing enough vaccines.
In fact, the doses for second shots have been used for increasing the number of first shots, which has resulted in an increased interval between the first and second doses.
Using the vaccine supplies allotted for second doses to increase first dose vaccinations is, in a word, putting high-risk people at risk to promote this administration.
Once again, I urge the government to focus on completing the vaccination of high-risk groups.
In addition, the fast pace of vaccination is thanks to the active cooperation of the Korean people, the dedication of the health care workers, and our healthcare system that has been developed and built up over the past several administrations.
This administration didn’t suddenly raise the level of the healthcare system that was low.
Our people are more actively cooperating with vaccination than any other country in the world.
If the government had heeded my advice in May of last year, urging them to ‘start making preparations, because vaccine supplies will be available as early as the end of the year,’ and if enough vaccine doses had been purchased since then, we would have completed the vaccination of 70 to 80% of the population before any other country in the world.
Therefore, all that the Moon Jae-in administration had to do was to obtain enough vaccines in a timely manner.
If it had, we would have already returned to our daily lives.
The stores would have been able to stay open, so self-employed business owners wouldn’t have to suffer and commit suicide as they are doing now.
We would have been able to minimize the number of people dying each day from Covid-19.
Therefore, I hope that the president and the government will stop persistently piggybacking on the phenomenon of the fastest inoculation rate in the world created by the active participation of the people.
The government’s attempt to be appreciated by the people by packaging what it should be thankful for as its own achievement is an act of hijacking the sacrifice and dedication of the people.
Is this really the right thing to do?
— Ahn Cheol-soo, leader of the People Party, September 18, 2021.