As the country is mulling to reduce the gap for booster doses from six to four months, South Korea is facing a rapid surge in coronavirus cases despite high vaccination rates.
According to Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA), ”Despite our high vaccination rate, we’ve confirmed clear rises in breakthrough infections among senior generations four months after they got the shot.”
”There is also a growing need for additional vaccination doses due to declining immunity from the Delta variants and as time passes.”
Driving serious and critical cases to a record, elderly people above the age of 60 constitute more than 82 per cent of the record jump from the mid-300s in October to 460 on Wednesday.
South Korea’s overall rate of vaccine breakthrough infections remains low at 85.5 people per every 100,000 inoculated.
However, as vaccine protection wanes over time, older people’s immune system, which is much weaker than young people is making them more vulnerable to infections.
As per the data released by the government, out of the total serious and critical patients with vaccine breakthrough infections in the past eight weeks, 93 per cent were from those aged 60 and above.
”The increase is not posing a threat to the country’s healthcare system yet, as there are nearly 500 ICU beds available, said senior health ministry official Son Young-rae.
The country has inoculated 640,232 people with a booster shot, since the programme began last month, mainly using vaccines from Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna.
South Korea started a gradual easing of COVID-19 restrictions this month, as it has fully vaccinated nearly 90 per cent of its adult population, or 77 per cent of its 52 million people.
The authorities have said a circuit breaker will be issued when there is a major strain on the number of hospital beds to treat serious cases, but have not revealed the exact threshold.
The country reported 2,425 new cases for Tuesday. It has recorded a total of 385,831 infections, with 3,012 deaths so far.