Not long ago, governments and officials in many Asia-Pacific countries saw their relative trickle of Covid-19 cases as a strength. Now it is looking like a vulnerability.
The Delta variant has backed many countries into a corner, short of vaccines and left with strategies that worked in the past but appear insufficient against this highly transmissible version of the virus.
South Korea admits social distancing isn’t enough. Australia wonders if lockdowns can still suffocate outbreaks. Singapore now views Covid-19 as endemic, like the seasonal flu.
Case rates in much of the region remain low, certainly compared with the U.S. and Europe, but much of the Asia-Pacific region is staring at a shortfall in immunity. Far fewer people fell sick than in the West, meaning less natural immunity, and less than 20% of the population in most Asian countries has been fully vaccinated, according to Oxford Economics.
That is less than half the vaccination rates in the U.S. and U.K., where uncontrolled early outbreaks prompted the authorities to bet aggressively on vaccines. It is also far short of the 60% to 70% threshold once viewed as the target to reach herd immunity—and even further from the higher percentage some public-health experts estimate would now be needed because of Delta’s transmissibility.
Originally Appeared Here