After watching the very polished performance of the South Korean Foreign Minister, Kang Kyung-wha on how the Koreans are dealing with coronavirus yesterday morning on the BBC Marr Show, it made me investigate what was being done differently there from the rest of the World.
It is clear that the Koreans have more experience of dealing with pandemics like this, hence the emphasis on the testing and with their laboratory. capacity already in place from the experience with other pandemics in East Asia. As nearly 20,000 people are being tested every day for coronavirus in South Korea, more people per capita than anywhere else in the world.
The South Korean’s have a pyramid system of mass testing 20,000 tests a day, then isolating the new cases and then tracking and test people who have been in contact with the new cases. All you need to do is look at South Korea’s mortality rate in comparison to other countries particularly from Europe and you’ll see the benefits, as below. If you look at the UK trajectory on the graph is shows clearly how far behind we are, if nothing else.
In the meantime, we have lockdown’s in Europe, taking various forms as the graph below illustrates. The key elements are the closure of schools, sporting events and travel restrictions with the Italians leading the way for a complete lockdown. Interesting in the UK, the closure of sporting events has occurred as a result of various sporting federations closing their games down rather than the government of the day telling them to do so.
Uniquely in Europe, the UK is pursuing an alternative path with its herd immunity. It is a form of indirect protection from infectious disease that occurs when a large percentage of a population has become immune to an infection, thereby providing a measure of protection for individuals who are not immune. So its more of a long run strategy being undertaken by the UK. Whilst those rejecting the ‘herd immunity’ theory that coronavirus can simply be left to rip through society until enough people develop immunity state there is no proof this will happen and thus the most deadly approach the government could take. All this while the World Health Organisation (WHO) tells us to “test, test & test” to fight coronavirus.
So the question for is how quickly can we set up the tests & lab set-up behind South Korean #coronavirus effort where their ‘trace, test and treat’ may well now be saving lives? It certainly bets all the various forms of shut down in Europe and herd immunity in the UK.
Making such national comparisons is very handy but lets also not forget we need also a global approach to this pandemic threat and maybe the next G20. But that is in November and it needs dealing with now across the world when the epicentre of it is in Europe as confirmed by WHO.