After beating back two waves of coronavirus infections – and garnering international praise for its competent handling of the pandemic – South Korea now finds itself fighting a trickier, stealthier uptick in cases, which has forced it to ramp up social distancing quickly.

The capital, Seoul, has implemented what’s dubbed a period of standstill for 10 million Seoulites until the end of the year. The greater capital region is now under level two social distancing – the third highest on the five-tier scheme.

Can we stem the the third wave of infections now very much underway in the country?

Let’s go in-depth.
Joining me live in the studio is News In-depth go to medical expert, Dr. Alice Tan of MizMedi Women’s Hospital.

Dr. Tan, thank you for coming on the show.

Last week when we had you in the studio, you were concerned about the level of social distancing – which was back then at level one.five, second highest on the five tier scheme.
As of midnight last night, the greater capital area is under level two – Bars and nightclubs are closed, religious gatherings limited and on-site dining at restaurants and cafes restricted.
Will this be enough to blunt the third wave?

The city of Seoul ordered a ‘standstill for 10 million Seoulites’ effective today until the end of the year.
What’s the difference of such regulations as opposed to an overall social distancing level 2.5 that we were under a couple of weeks ago?

How realistic is it that the city can keep this order in place until the end of the year?
Would a complete lockdown for a shorter period of time be more effective? What are your thoughts as a medical expert?

South Korea has a make-or-break college entrance exam next week where 500-thousand high school seniors will sit down for a nine-hour long exam. Should we be worried at all especially as this time around, the virus appears to be spreading quietly through community infection, involving small gatherings of family and friends and making the virus’s path harder to trace?

I want to talk about the latest on the vaccine front.
Yesterday, AstraZeneca announced its late-stage results for Covid-19 vaccine candidate that show an average of 70-percent efficacy. Now, Pfizer and Moderna unveiled their late-stage Covid vaccine results with efficacy of over 90-percent.
First of all, help us understand what they mean by “an average of” 70-percent protection.
Why does AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine’s efficacy vary so much?

How is this AstraZeneca/Oxford University vaccine different from the Covid-19 vaccine candidate developed by Pfizer and Moderna? What are the pros and cons of each?

The South Korean government, earlier this week, said it’s now in the final stages of vaccine purchase negotiations with the goal of securing enough doses “at the right time.”
We have some U.S. states announcing that the first doses of a COVID-19 vaccine could be arriving in their state in the next few weeks. Some countries in Europe saying that they will begin vaccinating their population early next month.
What does the South Korean government by “the right time”?

Shouldn’t South Korea speed up to swiftly secure vaccine supplies?

Realistically speaking, when will we be able to start traveling freely again?

Last but not least, we would like your advice on what each of us can do to quickly improve the situation here in South Korea and also worldwide.

Dr. Alice Tan, Internist at MizMedi Women’s Hospital, our favorite medical expert, thanks as always for your very valuable insights. We appreciate it.

Reporter : jenmoon@arirang.co.kr

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