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Original Articles
Association between face covering policies and the incidence of coronavirus disease 2019 in European countries
Sookhyun Kim, Jiyoung Oh, Sangwoo Tak
Received October 25, 2022  Accepted January 10, 2022  Published online February 1, 2023  
DOI:    [Epub ahead of print]
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AbstractAbstract PDF
This study was conducted to determine the impact of the strengthening or relaxation of face covering mandates on the subsequent national case incidence of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in Europe as the full vaccination rate was increasing.
European countries in which case incidence increased for 3 consecutive weeks were monitored and analyzed using COVID-19 incidence data shared by the World Health Organization (WHO). The epidemic trend of COVID-19 in Europe was compared with that of countries elsewhere in the world based on WHO weekly epidemiological reports from June 20 to October 30, 2021. In addition, this study provided insight into the impact of government mask mandates on COVID-19 incidence in Europe by measuring the index scores of those facial covering policies before and after mandate relaxation or strengthening. The effects of the vaccination rate and the speed of vaccination on COVID-19 incidence were also analyzed.
The incidence of COVID-19 after the relaxation of face covering mandates was significantly higher than before relaxation. However, no significant difference was observed in vaccination rate between countries with increased and decreased incidence. Instead, rapid vaccination delayed the resurgence in incidence.
The findings suggest that face covering policies in conjunction with rapid vaccination efforts are essential to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19.
Time-series comparison of COVID-19 case fatality rates across 21 countries with adjustment for multiple covariates
Yongmoon Kim, Bryan Inho Kim, Sangwoo Tak
Osong Public Health Res Perspect. 2022;13(6):424-434.   Published online November 28, 2022
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Graphical AbstractGraphical Abstract AbstractAbstract PDF
Although it is widely used as a measure for mortality, the case fatality rate (CFR) ofcoronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) can vary over time and fluctuate for many reasons otherthan viral characteristics. To compare the CFRs of different countries in equal measure, weestimated comparable CFRs after adjusting for multiple covariates and examined the mainfactors that contributed to variability in the CFRs among 21 countries.Methods: For statistical analysis, time-series cross-sectional data were collected from OurWorld in Data,, and GISAID. Biweekly CFRs of COVID-19 were estimated bypooled generalized linear squares regression models for the panel data. Covariates includedthe predominant virus variant, reproduction rate, vaccination, national economic status,hospital beds, diabetes prevalence, and population share of individuals older than age 65. Intotal, 21 countries were eligible for analysis.Results: Adjustment for covariates reduced variation in the CFRs of COVID-19 across countriesand over time. Regression results showed that the dominant spread of the Omicron variant,reproduction rate, and vaccination were associated with lower country-level CFRs, whereasage, the extreme poverty rate, and diabetes prevalence were associated with higher countrylevel CFRs.Conclusion: A direct comparison of crude CFRs among countries may be fallacious, especiallyin a cross-sectional analysis. Our study presents an adjusted comparison of CFRs over timefor a more proper comparison. In addition, our findings suggest that comparing CFRs amongdifferent countries without considering their context, such as the epidemic phase, medicalcapacity, surveillance strategy, and socio-demographic traits, should be avoided.
Changes in the pattern and disease burden of acute respiratory viral infections before and during the COVID-19 pandemic
Chungmin Park, Donghan Lee, Bryan Inho Kim, Sujin Park, Gyehee Lee, Sangwoo Tak
Osong Public Health Res Perspect. 2022;13(3):203-211.   Published online June 30, 2022
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AbstractAbstract PDF
We conducted a comparative analysis of the differences in the incidence of 8 acute respiratory viruses and the changes in their patterns before and during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. Methods: Three sentinel surveillance systems of the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency and data from the Health Insurance Review and Assessment Service were analyzed. The average numbers of reported cases and the related hospital admissions and outpatient data were compared between April 2018–2019 and 2020–2021. Changes in the disease burden and medical expenditures between these 2 time periods were evaluated. Results: During the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of reported cases of all acute respiratory viral infections, except for human bocavirus, decreased significantly. Data from the Health Insurance Review and Assessment Service also showed decreases in the actual amount of medical service usage and a marked reduction in medical expenditures. Conclusion: Non-pharmacological interventions in response to COVID-19 showed preventive effects on the transmission of other respiratory viruses, as well as COVID-19. Although COVID-19 had a tremendous impact on society as a whole, with high social costs, there were also positive effects, such as a reduction in the incidence of acute respiratory viral infections.
Brief Report
Enhancing ‘Whole-of-Government’ Response to Biological Events in Korea: Able Response 2014
Sangwoo Tak, Anton Jareb, Suon Choi, Marvin Sikes, Yeon Hwa Choi, Hyeong-wook Boo
Osong Public Health Res Perspect. 2018;9(1):32-35.   Published online December 31, 2017
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  • 2 Citations
AbstractAbstract PDF

Since 2011, the Republic of Korea (ROK) and United States (U.S.) have been collaborating to conduct inter- and intra-governmental exercises to jointly respond to biological events in Korea. These exercises highlight U.S. interest in increasing its global biosurveillance capability and the ROK’s interest in improving cooperation among ministries to respond to crises. With Able Response (AR) exercises, the ROK and U.S. have improved coordination among US and ROK government and defense agencies responding to potential bio-threats and identified additional areas on which to apply refinements in policies and practices. In 2014, the AR exercise employed a Biosurveillance Portal (BSP) to facilitate more effective communication among participating agencies and countries including Australia. In the present paper, we seek to provide a comprehensive assessment of the AR 2014 (AR14) exercise and make recommendations for future improvements. Incorporating a more realistic response in future scenarios by integrating a tactical response episode in the exercise is recommended.


Citations to this article as recorded by  
  • Whole of government and whole of society approaches: call for further research to improve population health and health equity
    Flaminia Ortenzi, Robert Marten, Nicole B Valentine, Aku Kwamie, Kumanan Rasanathan
    BMJ Global Health.2022; 7(7): e009972.     CrossRef
  • Biodefence research two decades on: worth the investment?
    Carrie M Long, Andrea Marzi
    The Lancet Infectious Diseases.2021; 21(8): e222.     CrossRef

PHRP : Osong Public Health and Research Perspectives