Public health prof on Taiwan outbreak, vaccination progress

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The most recent Covid-19 outbreak in Taiwan is a lesson {that a} containment technique aiming for zero native transmission will not be sustainable in the long run, a public well being professor stated Tuesday.

Earlier than the latest explosion in circumstances, Taiwan had reported only a few Covid infections for greater than a 12 months — and most have been imported. That allowed each day actions to proceed largely as regular and received the island worldwide reward for its containment measures.

However that left Taiwan “utterly prone” to new variants of the coronavirus which might be extra transmissible and probably extra extreme, stated Benjamin Cowling, professor and head of the epidemiology and biostatistics division at The College of Hong Kong’s College of Public Well being.

“Most likely lower than 1% of their inhabitants have had pure an infection and subsequently pure immunity, and … lower than 1% have been vaccinated — in order that they’re nearly utterly prone,” Cowling informed CNBC’s “Squawk Field Asia.”

Taiwan, with a inhabitants of roughly 24 million, has reported greater than 8,500 confirmed Covid circumstances and 124 deaths as of Monday, official information confirmed.

It is a warning to different components of Asia which might be additionally attempting this elimination technique, it is not essentially sustainable in the long run.

Benjamin Cowling

College of Hong Kong’s College of Public Well being

Cowling stated Taiwan will discover it troublesome to regulate the newest outbreak. Authorities might have stricter social distancing measures provided that testing capability hasn’t ramped up sufficient and the island’s vaccination progress has been gradual, he added.

“It is a warning to different components of Asia which might be additionally attempting this elimination technique, it is not essentially sustainable in the long run,” stated the professor.

Asian economies have typically proven a decrease tolerance for Covid infections in comparison with its friends in different areas.

Governments in Hong Kong and Singapore, for instance, have been fast to tighten measures to stem out small upticks in circumstances. In the meantime, nations such because the U.S. and U.Okay. are nonetheless reporting hundreds of each day circumstances, however faster vaccination has allowed the nations to roll again restrictions.

Like lots of its regional friends in Asia, Taiwan has confronted challenges securing Covid vaccines, stated Cowling. A part of Taiwan’s hurdle is politics, stated the professor.

Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen stated in a Fb publish final week that the federal government has bought vaccines developed by AstraZeneca and Moderna. She accused China of blocking a cope with Germany’s BioNTech, which has co-developed a vaccine with U.S. pharmaceutical Pfizer.

Beijing has denied Tsai’s accusation.

China claims Taiwan as a runaway province that should someday be reunited with the mainland — utilizing power if crucial. The Chinese language Communist Occasion has by no means ruled Taiwan, which is a democratic self-ruled island.

“There’s lots of politics concerned in getting vaccines to Taiwan,” stated Cowling. “I believe they will be capable to do it, however they will not be capable to vaccinate sufficient folks proper now to cease the present outbreak, they should use social distancing, lockdowns to cope with this.”

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