Despite No WHO Membership, Taiwan is about to be free of Corona Virus!

Every Nation is the World is affected by Covid-19 pandemic and the battle against the invisible still continues. Different countries have different strategies to come out of health emergencies. Similarly, Taiwan has become a model to combat the pandemic in a speedy, efficient and expert-led response, despite no membership with the World Health Organization (WHO) and so close proximity to China.

The World has over 7 Million Covid-19 infections with nearly 4 lakh casualties, the biggest blow to the progress of humanity. Several countries have devised innovative models to curb the covid infection and bring their economies back on track. With countries coming out of lock down one after the other, there are many models that are successful in their efforts. Most recently, New Zealand declared itself free of Covid-19 free as there are no active cases for more than 17 days which had 1000+ cases with 22 deaths. Another successful model is one Taiwan implemented that helped contain infections to less than 500.

Taiwan had such a successful effort that no country could meet with as much. Both culturally and geographically, Taiwan is close to China and also to South Korea. Adding to its worries, the received guidelines were through the Chinese counterpart, as Taiwan is not a member of the World Health Organization. Here are some of the key insights and the risks Taiwan had while the spread was at peak in China.

China and Taiwan Relationship

Taiwan has nearly a million citizens who either live or work in China which is just 180 km from the island country. Hundreds of flights connect both countries everyday, especially the major cities that are populated. With such close proximity, Taiwan had high risk of virus carriage from mainland China to Taipei, the most populated city in Taiwan. The small country is always at the high risk of infection if the origin is in China. The case was similar when SARS broke out in China during 2003, Taiwan has the highest mortality rate in the World.

Everyday there is a movement of more than 10k+ daily and nearly 2.7 million people annually between Taiwan and China. With a population of 27 million, this movement was a vast risk for the country. Yet, Taiwan just had 443 cases as of June 8th, with just 7 casualties and only 6 active cases. The country has been successful in stopping the virus at the doorstep. How was the country able to contain a pandemic of this size? Let’s take a look at the model Taiwan adopted to control the spread.

Expert led Containment Strategy

Since the outbreak, the containment strategy has been led by Healthcare experts and Scientists who responded with urgency. The expert team was led by Taiwan’s Vice-President Chen Chien-jen, a trained epidemiologist from John Hopkins University. The model was completely led by those with medical and healthcare backgrounds. The response by the experts was agile since January and is successful. By January 20th, the Central Epidemic Command Centre (CECC) was activated and was ready to roll out the model.

Border Control and Flight Screening

Taipei was quick to understand that flight movement was the pathway for virus transmission across the countries. The experts acted swiftly and started restricted and monitoring passenger movement allowing only essential movements. Within a week of activating CECC, the country closed its borders and stopped responding to the cruise ships from its ports. The same restrictions were extended to Singapore and Taiwan, and only people with permanent residence were allowed into the country.

Monitoring by Central Command

The expert led Central Epidemic Command Center took and implemented all the measures, that was not just limited to Fever Screenings and Border control. Instead of depending on imported Face masks and Personal Protective Equipment, Taiwan ramped up its in-house manufacturing capabilities, also halting the export of the same. The command also started rationing the masks at 3 per week which was backed by 73 manufacturing companies that never stopped mask production.

Private Sector Contribution

The Taiwan government trusted the private sector in its efforts. The command setup 93 production lines and took on-board 73 manufacturing companies to manufacture face masks and PPEs. At one point of time, the country has stockpiled 44 million masks, almost 1.6x its population. Pharma companies have started their research on vaccines. And startups like Docsun Clinical AI Laboratory have been employing Artificial Intelligence to reduce the testing time to mere seconds against hours required to confirm infection today.

The model adopted by Taiwan is undoubtedly quick and is a success. It is too hard for any country to adopt these measures at this point of time. The country with the swift response was able to save thousands of lives. There was no considerable economic downfall too and there was no lock down and factories, companies, schools, colleges, malls and restaurants still continue to function. Taiwan has shown exemplary Leadership successfully containing the virus. While countries like India hosting a summit to praise foreign leadership and developed countries like the USA using Virus as a political weapon, a small island country showed the way how it needs to be done and how to protect its citizens.

Docsun Clinical AI Laboratory is a social initiative working on Artificial Intelligence powered Covid-19 Rapid Testing technology.