Date: Mar 8, 2020
By: Adam Smith
As the coronavirus that spread out of Wuhan, China, late last year has now infected nearly 110,000 people in 93 countries and is overwhelming nations as far away as Italy, there’s one place where the infection rate has been minimal so far. Just over 80 miles away from China, Taiwan has logged only 45 known cases of Covid-19 as of Sunday. That’s a small fraction of the more than 470 cases – and nearly 20 deaths – now discovered in the U.S. And yet Taiwan is close not only geographically to the mainland, but also historically, economically and politically.
But unlike the U.S. and other nations, Taiwan acted quickly, aggressively and strategically to prevent the kinds of outbreaks and death rates seen in faraway places such as Europe and now the United States. It’s been using a combination of disaster preparedness set up following the SARS crisis, a strong health care infrastructure, big data and technology to combat the spread there, according to a new paper published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. And the small island nation acted quickly, by as early as Dec. 31, while much the world was carefree.
For insight into how Taiwan is handling the threat of the virus, TheStreet asked the JAMA paper’s main author, Dr. C. Jason Wang, associate professor of pediatrics and director of the Center for Policy, Outcomes and Prevention at Stanford University School of Medicine, by email. Dr. Wang was also a management consultant with McKinsey and Company and served as the project manager for Taiwan's National Health Insurance Reform Task-force. Following is an edited version of the exchange. [FULL STORY]