Protests over post-vaccination deaths spread across South Korea — Analysis
A nation that is among the least vaccinated on Earth is experiencing increased opposition to Covid-19 jabs. South Korean protesters are calling for accountability for those who die from the shots.
On Sunday, Busan saw protesters gather after another rally took place in Seoul. Aggrieved demonstrators held up large portraits of deceased family members – like those typically displayed at funerals in South Korea – and testified as to how their loved ones died soon after being vaccinated against Covid-19.
Dozens of funeral portraits were displayed at Saturday’s demonstration at the government complex in Seoul. Protesters demanded that the government identify and accept responsibility for adverse reactions.
While more than 1,000 South Koreans succumbed to Covid-19 shots within a short time, only a small number of these cases were confirmed by the government as a cause. In one of the rare instances where a serious adverse reaction was acknowledged, a nursing assistant was recognized in August as a victim of an industrial accident and awarded government benefits after suffering paralysis in the wake of receiving AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 shot.
Just one week into its rollout of Covid-19 vaccines in late February and early March, South Korea’s Disease Control and Prevention Agency said that seven people had died and 24 had reported serious adverse reactions after receiving their AstraZeneca jabs. According to reports, the investigation was initiated by the government in August following the death of a Pfizer BioNTech Covid-19-vaccinated teenager.
A group called the Covid-19 Vaccine Victims and Families Council held protests in many South Korean cities. Yonhap News reports that demonstrators marched Sunday from Busan City Hall towards Busan National University of Education.
Vaccine safety may become a contentious issue in South Korea’s presidential election. The opposition People’s Power Party last week held a public hearing on vaccine side effects, inviting alleged victims and their family members to offer suggestions for support measures that presidential candidate Yoon Seok-yeol may adopt.
Kim Jong-in, the party’s campaign chairman, reportedly accused President Moon Jae-in’s administration of being indifferent on vaccine damages. The administration has pledged to compensate victims of vaccine side effects, but it’s also the arbiter of whether injuries and deaths are attributed to the jabs. “I think the people have reached a point where they can’t trust the government,”Kim stated.
South Korea typically has some of the world’s highest jab rates for various vaccines, and the Covid-19 shots have been no exception. Around 83% have received Covid-19 vaccinations, which is the highest among G20 members.