From the 26th, the obligation to wear an outdoor mask will be completely lifted. Masks can be removed at outdoor sports events, performances, and gatherings where 50 or more people gather. As 97% of the people were found to have COVID-19 antibodies due to infection or vaccination, it is predicted that the quarantine authorities will further speed up their daily recovery.
At a meeting of the Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasures Headquarters held on the 23rd, Prime Minister Han Duk-soo said, “We are clearly overcoming the hurdle of the re-infestation of COVID-19. Accordingly, it is possible to watch outdoor concerts and watch professional baseball games without wearing a mask. There is no need to wear a mask when attending large outdoor religious events or gatherings.
At a briefing on the same day, the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) Director Baek Kyung-ran said, “The lifting of the obligation does not mean that wearing a mask outdoors is unnecessary. autonomous practice is important,” he said.
Quarantine authorities have recommended that people with suspected COVID-19 symptoms, high-risk groups, and large amounts of droplet generation wear a mask even outdoors.
The reason that the quarantine authorities have advanced the measures to completely remove the outdoor mask, which was originally expected in the spring of next year, is an analysis that the re-infestation has returned to a stable state after the Chuseok holiday and the positive results of the Corona 19 antibody investigation have had an impact. In an antibody survey conducted by the government on 10,000 people, it was found that 97.38% had COVID-19 antibodies through infection or vaccination. This means that the ability to respond to COVID-19 is at a high level.
“Most of the people possessing corona antibodies, the risk of death and seriousness is low even if there is a resurgence”
The government’s announcement of the ‘full lifting of outdoor masks’ on the 23rd was judged to have clearly surpassed the hurdle of the COVID-19 resurgence. It is also because more than 97% of the Korean people have COVID-19 antibodies due to infection or vaccination.
The National Institutes of Health, affiliated with the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, announced today the results of a COVID-19 antibody-positive rate survey conducted on 10,000 people aged 5 years and over, sampled from 17 cities and provinces nationwide from August to September.
As the first large-scale antibody-positive rate survey conducted by the government since the outbreak of COVID-19, it was a method of checking whether or not antibodies that bind to the S and N antigens of the Corona 19 virus were obtained through blood tests. N-antibody is an antibody that arises only from natural infection, and S-antibody is an antibody that arises from both infection and vaccination.
As a result, the positive rate of S antibody including both infection and inoculation was 97.38%. It is higher than the 94.9% antibody-positive rate that the authorities found in a survey of 1,612 people from January to April. It is interpreted that this is because the number of infected people increased due to the outbreak of omicron mutations after the investigation, and the number of antibody holders increased as the vaccination rate increased. The quarantine authorities explained that this high antibody-positive rate played a role in the reduction of mortality and aggravation rates after the Omicron epidemic.
However, the government emphasized, “It is difficult to say that sufficient herd immunity has been formed just because the antibody-positive rate is high.” This is because the formed antibodies disappear over time. As new mutations appear, the duration of the antibody becomes shorter. In fact, many of the subjects surveyed are antibodies to the early COVID-19 virus, and the duration of the antibodies is several months, so it is not safe to say that the antibody positive rate is high.
Kwon Jun-wook, head of the National Institutes of Health, said at a briefing on the same day, “A high antibody-positive rate does not mean that the population has high defense against the virus. Just because we’re losing doesn’t mean we have enough defense.”
In addition, one in five people was found to be a ‘hidden infected person’ who was not caught in the number of confirmed cases even after being infected with COVID-19. This investigation only identified the presence or absence of antibodies, but did not show how high the antibody titer was or whether there were neutralizing antibodies that could actually prevent infection with COVID-19.
The quarantine authorities, however, believe that the fact that most of the people have antibodies will significantly contribute to preventing death or aggravation rather than the infection itself. Director Kwon predicted, “Most of the people have antibodies, so even if there is an outbreak again in the future, the mortality and severity of the disease can be significantly reduced.”
Reporter Kim Jong-un [email protected]