Taiwan should abandon its “COVID zero” strategy and instead focus on COVID-19 vaccines and improving clinical outcomes, a Taiwanese medical expert said yesterday, citing Singapore’s experience in battling the pandemic.
Huang Yun-ru (黃韻如), a professor of medicine at National Taiwan University who lives in Singapore, made the remarks in an online news conference organized by the National Taiwan University Hospital.
As vaccines are effective in preventing deaths, severe symptoms and hospitalizations, it is possible to live with COVID-19 if a large percentage of the population is fully vaccinated, she said.
Singapore has vaccinated 80 percent of its people against COVID-19, the highest vaccination rate in the world, Huang said, adding that Taiwan’s top priority should be raising its inoculation rate.
An indefinite border closure cannot be sustained in Singapore, which depends on imports for 90 percent of its food, and needs Changi Airport to stay open so that the city-state can remain a regional hub, she said.
Singapore attained such a high vaccination rate because its government created a precisely calculated vaccine acquisition program in April last year and began distributing vaccines in December, Huang said.
Although people older than 70 were given top priority for COVID-19 vaccination, the age group had the lowest inoculation rate in the city-state, she said, adding for example that 90 percent of Singaporean youths were fully vaccinated, despite their lower priority.
Singapore launched a campaign to persuade elderly vaccine holdouts following the outbreak of the Delta variant of SARS-CoV-2, which caused deaths and hospitalizations overwhelmingly in that demographic, Huang said.
The measures included sending medical volunteers to communities to inoculate people and carry out public awareness campaigns, which appeared to have increased vaccination rates among elderly people over the past two months, she said.
The city-state uses the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines for its publicly subsidized vaccination program, but other vaccines are available for self-paid vaccination for people who do not trust messenger RNA-based vaccines, she said.
Last month, Singapore unveiled an App-based vaccine passport for visiting public places, Huang said.
Taiwan has not adopted similar measures due to its low vaccination rate and legal concerns over digital privacy, she said.
Digital vaccine passports do not necessarily infringe of human rights and Singapore has shown that they are a useful incentive for people to get vaccinated, she added.
GREATER NUMBER: The sorties might have been a response to the US and the EU expressing concern on Friday over China’s ‘provocations’ in the Taiwan Strait Twenty-five Chinese military aircraft and four naval ships were detected around Taiwan from 6am Saturday to 6am yesterday, including eight airplanes that had crossed the median line of the Taiwan Strait and another two that entered Taiwan’s air defense identification zone (ADIZ). The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) aircraft that entered Taiwan’s southwestern ADIZ were a Y-8 anti-submarine plane and a BZK-005 uncrewed aerial vehicle, the Ministry of National Defense said. The aircraft that flew across the median line include two Sukhoi Su-30 fighter jets, four J-16 multipurpose fighters and two J-10 jets, the ministry’s official Web site showed. Taiwan’s armed forces monitored the
Mask easing: Teachers are allowed to take their masks off while lecturing indoors, but students should keep theirs on, as COVID-19 measures ease this week The Ministry of Education (MOE) yesterday released new on-campus COVID-19 prevention guidelines, stating that masks can be taken off while exercising, singing, dancing, performing, taking photographs, dining, drinking, video and voice recording, hosting events, presenting speeches and lecturing outdoors. Large outdoor events organized by schools should comply with the mask regulations issued by the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC), it added. The new guidelines came into effect yesterday, and people in Taiwan are no longer required to wear masks outdoors for the first time since May 19 last year. The CECC announced the easing of the mask mandate on Monday, adding that it
LUNAR NEW YEAR PEAK: Taiwanese who are in China should get vaccinated and consider returning early, as infection rates are expected to increase, the CECC said China faces five major problems once COVID-19 begins spreading there, with a peak in infections likely during the Lunar New Year holidays, Deputy Minister of Health and Welfare Victor Wang (王必勝), who heads the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC), said yesterday. Wang wrote on Facebook that according to the center’s data, the increasing number of COVID-19 cases in China is worth noting, as the new Omicron subvariants BF.7 and BA.5.2 spreading in China are highly infectious and are more transmissible than the previously dominating Omicron subvariants. “The virus cannot be eliminated even under China’s strict control measures,” he wrote. “Its policy
Taiwan and the US on Friday celebrated the second anniversary of a language education initiative that aims to encourage more Americans to learn Mandarin at Taiwanese study centers as China’s language and cultural centers close across the US. “Over the past two years, we have significantly increased Mandarin and English language learning and exchange opportunities. Here’s to the future!” the US Department of State’ Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs wrote on Twitter. Attached to the post was a graphic that showed that the number of US students in the bureau’s exchange programs in Taiwan has increased to about 130 from 90