What the UK can learn from South Korea’s Covid response | Devi Sridhar

Posted by on November 17, 2021 3:00 am
Categories: Global Stories

At the start of the pandemic, Seoul pursued a zero-Covid policy. How will this affect the west’s response to the next pandemic?’

With winter approaching, it’s time to talk about the optimal Covid-19 strategy again – and for that, we need to look once more at what’s happening in South Korea.

It has vaccinated 79.2% of its population with two doses, and, if it continues administering 220,000 doses a day, will have covered almost 90% of its population by the end of the year. Compare this to the UK, where 68.6% of the population has received two doses, and the US, where this figure is at 58%. If we compare deaths, the numbers are even more shocking. South Korea has suffered only 3,137 from a population of 51.8 million. For the UK, the corresponding figures are 142,945 deaths from a population of 67.2 million, while in the US there have been 783,575 deaths from a population of 329.5 million. In addition, in the first quarter of 2021, South Korea became one of the first high-income countries to see its economy recover to pre-pandemic levels, after it managed to only experience a 1% contraction in GDP in 2020 (the second-best performance behind China).

Prof Devi Sridhar is chair of global public health at the University of Edinburgh

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