While the world welcomed 2021 expecting to overcome the COVID-19 crisis and restore normalcy, the year ends with situations around the globe aggravated by the emergence of a new variant.
As experts predicted that people will have to continue wearing masks this year, the fourth wave of the pandemic, which began in July, continued for over five months.
After concerns grew that the resurgence may be spiraling out of control, new cases just started to slow down with the acceleration in booster shots.
On February 26, vaccinations began for those at high risk of infection, such as medical personnel treating COVID-19 patients, and patients and workers at nursing homes. The nationwide program expanded to include general adults and youth, with booster shots currently under way.
Ahead of the government’s implementation of a six-month validity for entry passes issued to fully vaccinated people starting January 3, over 90 percent of those nearing expiration have received booster shots. The first round vaccination rate among minors aged 12 to 17 has surpassed 70 percent.
However, with vaccine efficacy gradually dropping among those at high risk and fully vaccinated seniors, coupled with a rise in delta and omicron breakthrough infections, the country’s transition to living with the virus was forced to come to a halt.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety granted emergency use authorization for Pfizer’s COVID-19 pill, Paxlovid, on December 27.
With no clear sign of a breakthrough in quarantine, the oral treatment is expected to prevent critical cases, drastically reducing the fatality rate. Attention is now drawn to whether the pill could become a game changer.
Photo : YONHAP News
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