As much as we appreciate how effectively South Korea managed to contain the spread of the pandemic, the fact can’t be ignored that it involved steps that many democracies all around are just not comfortable signing up for and going through.

To expedite testing, it gave laboratories the green light to use unapproved diagnostic kits during a public-health emergency. To expand contact tracing, it gave health authorities warrantless access to CCTV footage and the geolocation data from the new patients’ phones. To increase transparency, the new laws required local governments to send prompt alerts, such as emergency texts, to disclose the recent whereabouts of new patients.

People trust the government in part because it works to keep raw politics out of public health. And the government trusts the public to act as a responsible co-partner in public health.” Each democracy should aim to achieve this delicate balance of trust” with their public.