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S. Korea's First Case of Covid-19: One Year On Updated: 2021-01-19 16:20:50 KST

One year ago this week, South Korea reported its first case of the coronavirus.
Since then, not only this country, but the entire world has come a long way in terms of battling what we now call Covid-19.
Over the past year, South Korea has had three big waves - over 73 thousand Covid-19 cases, lost well over 12-hundred lives to the virus.
Of course, it appears we are entering a new chapter in our battle against Covid-19 with the soon-to-come vaccine rollout, but we're also seeing the emergence of mutant strains.

One year into the first case of Covid in South Korea - let's talk about it.

I have in the studio with me - to my left, Dr. Alice Tan, Internist at MizMedi Women's Hospital and to my right, Dr. Jung Ki-suck, Professor of Medicine at Hallym University Sacred Heart Hospital and previously director of the KCDC.

Welcome Dr. Tan, Dr, Jung, to News In-depth.

I want to first talk about the 2.5 social distancing measures that were both extended AND eased over the weekend here in South Korea.
So, health authorities did extend the measures for another two weeks banning gatherings larger than four, requiring businesses to close at 9 pm.
At the same time, some other measures were eased - for instance, religious services could meet in person at 10-percent capacity, we can now sit at a cafe and have coffee with friends, work out at gyms
Even singing rooms are back in businesses although restricted in operating hours.
What are your thoughts?

Is extending the current two.five measures for another two weeks - so, about a week before the Lunar New Year holidays - will that help further lower the number of daily new cases that have significantly dropped from the 1-thousands to the 500s and now the 300s starting this week?

Should we expect another 2-week extention of the 2.5 social distancing measures, which would take us through the Lunar New Year's?

Tomorrow marks one year since South Korea reported its very first case of the coronavirus.
How has Covid and South Korea's response to Covid evolved over the past year? And what do expect going forward?

KDCA Commissioner Dr. Jeong Eun-kyeong announced that the government will have in place an online system by next month where South Koreans can book their Covid-19 vaccine shots in advance, access relevant information, and eventually get vaccine certificates.
She also detailed how the five step transport, delivery, storage, to the actual inoculation pan-government collaboration will work.
How is system to be efficient, and how does it cover lessons we've learned from vaccine campaigns that have had a head start in other countries?

Based on the government's timeline, which calls for vaccinations of key individuals to begin in February - with 32 million-36 million people vaccinated by September - is it realistic to reach the goal of achieving herd immunity by November?

At the New Year's press conference yesterday, President Moon assured the public that the vaccine is safe, also adding that the government will pay compensation to those who experience any serious side effects.
Now, while the elderly group of patients are at high-risk, therefore prioritized to be vaccinated, Norway is reviewing deaths of frail and elderly patients after being vaccinated.
What do we need to take away from the latest discovery, in global terms of battling the pandemic, but also in setting up details of the vaccination program in South Korea?

South Korea's drug safety agency has advised conditional approval of Celltrion's COVID-19 treatment.
The condition is that the COVID-19 treatment candidate is an ongoing phase-three clinical trial.
I understand that this treatment would reduce the COVID-19 recovery period by around three-and-a-half days.
First, what does a conditional phase-three clinical trial approval of this treatment mean?

This would also mark South Korea's first homegrown COVID-19 treatment I understand it's an anti-COVID-19 monoclonal antibody treatment candidate.
How does it compare with the FDA authorized monoclonal antibody treatment, or the UK finding Japanese arthritis drug effective as a treatment, or UK's Synairgen's trial of an inhaled treatment?

Dr. Alice Tan, Internist at MizMedi Women's Hospital and Dr. Jung Ki-suck, Professor of Medicine at Hallym University Sacred Heart Hospital, many thanks as always for your insights and expertise. We appreciate it.
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