Study Germany's and Taiwan's Success to Form a Reopening Strategy4
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(01/17/2022)Did G20 learn lessons from the Delta? When the world welcomed 2022, many people were actually calling the new year “pandemic year 3.” If we have had it enough and do not want “pandemic year 4,” year 5 or year 6, let’s encourage Indonesian government step forward with its Group of 20 (G20) presidency to call for an international campaign helping people around the globe fearlessly live with the coronavirus and adopt the new normal as soon as possible. Quite a number of public health experts had advised before COVID vaccines became available that the human society was inevitably going to live with the coronavirus for a while and only sustainable measures would help everybody get through the pandemic. Unfortunately, most governments , with certain high-profile scientists and celebrities, put so much faith in lockdowns and looked forward to seeing COVID vaccines would work perfectly like a silver bullet even though, at that time, almost every vaccine developer was apparently targeting at lowering the numbers of severe patients and death victims instead of guaranteeing no infections after getting vaccinated. The Delta variant’s attack last summer was a wake-up call. Many countries, after enjoying reopening and sort of returning to normal brought by successful vaccine rollouts, experienced the Delta variant of the coronavirus caused a new wave of case surge, made hospitals overwhelmed again, and, sadly, took many people’s lives. It was the time that people started being familiar with a term called “breakthrough infections.” For example, Singapore surprisingly reported 28,901 new infections and 40 deaths in September 2021 after the vaccination rate was beyond 80%. Their COVID death number was zero in September 2020 when there was no CIVID vaccine at all. The epidemiological investigation and laboratory results concluded the changed situation was mainly caused by the Delta variant. Singapore was not the only place having a bad September last year. As of 31 August 2021, 80.43% of the residents 12 years and older were fully vaccinated, but Guam, an US island territory in the Pacific reported 47 COVID-related fatalities in September 2021. The figure was higher than the death number of 39 reported in September 2020 when no vaccine was available at that time. With almost the same land size, Guam is home of less than 200 thousand residents and Singapore has a population of 5.7 million. It means the highly-contagious Delta variant was influencing everywhere, no matter a busy and crowded city or a relaxed and rural place. In addition, obviously, vaccines alone are not suppressing the coronavirus. Europe’s experience reminded that nobody should drop his/her guard even thought the population reached a high vaccination rate. European Union has been leading its member states to keep precautions and try reopening in a gradual way. The continent has maintained a basically downward curve of infections as well as hospitalizations and deaths since its successful vaccine rollouts in association with well-managed medical capacity, even though the Delta variant did make a noticeable, but not really harmful, spike. However, it seemed that most parts of the world did not learn lessons from the Delta and implement proper measures when the Omicron came. The World Health Organization did not wait for sufficient morbidity and fatality data to be collected. Its warning message on the Omicron variant released late November last year triggered many countries’ panicked decisions of tightening COVID restrictions. It’s sad that South Africa’s variant identification efforts, which should have been appreciated, made its people punished by the almost worldwide travel ban. The wait wasn’t even long. Before last Christmas, at least three scientific researches caught the media’s attention and proved the Omicron variant may be much more contagious but it’s mostly causing mild cases. However, the chaos has hurt people. For example, Guam, which finally saw a little bit tourism recovery last November, immediately suffered from more than 5000 travel booking cancellations right after the Omicron panic widely spread. More variants will definitely come and we definitely do not want more chaos. While the Omicron has shown the new variants in the future are very likely to be less lethal and the COVID vaccines are actually promisingly reducing severe cases, plus the antiviral medicines are available, the whole world really needs a leadership that urges every jurisdiction to guide people fearlessly living with the virus by using more appropriate strategies to respond to every emerging variant. Let’s try to recall whether the system was encouraging people to get tested during the flu season to try to contain flu viruses. Were we worried so much when we experienced flu-like symptoms or got diagnosed as having flu? Wasn’t the goal of flu control to avoid severe complications and save people’s lives? The best tools helping us achieve the goal are always personal hygiene and flu vaccines although so-called “breakthrough infections” did happen to flu vaccines as well. COVID is not flu, but flu control experience could apply to COVID response, especially to the current situation of “pandemic year 3,” a year that G20 presidency returns to Asia, where people totally have no issue with wearing a mask and helped prove this measure could effectively prevent COVID spread. Indonesian government needs to work with its G20 partners and make history.(Published in The Jakarta Post on January 11, 2022) http://www.hsvg.org/hot_414422.html Did G20 learn lessons from Delta variant? 2022-01-17 2023-01-17
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(April 22, 2020)

Study Germany’s and Taiwan’s Success to Form a Reopening Strategy

Why does Germany close dining and entertainment businesses only while France, Italy and Spain enforce nationwide lockdowns? Why are people in Taipei keeping daily life while Singapore closes schools and businesses and asks citizens to stay home till June 1?

The most important lesson we should learn from Germany is to stop being worried about the number of confirmed cases. Due to the coronavirus’ highly contagious nature and the country’s massive testing policy, Germany is certainly finding a lot of COVID-19 cases. The focus therefore ought to be mild cases’ quarantine and severe cases’ medical treatment. Germany did it right, so their domestic patients got well treated and they have been taking care of patients flown in from other European Union member countries.

While many countries have been calling for flattening the epidemic curve, as of April 13, Taiwan, with a population of 23 million citizens, reported 6 deaths from COVID-19 and only 273 patients who are still hospitalized. Taiwanese have been promptly wearing a mask since the middle of January even though many experts did not agree it could help at that time. Taiwanese government also coordinated mask manufacturers to increase productivity to meet people’s demands of purchasing masks. In contrast, most of western countries did not add wearing a mask into COVID-19 control guidelines until April.

It definitely makes a lot of sense that the governors who want to lift the restrictions do their researches on the experiences of those countries that have never place any restriction order during the pandemic to form a relevant and sustainable exit strategy. We are glad to see Mr. Governor Gavin Newsom tweeted California’s “flatten the curve” graph on April 11, which showed California has used “hospitalization rate” to replace “infection rate”, or confirmed cases, to monitor the epidemic curve. We would like to acknowledge California for its action of bringing COVID-19 control to a right track and to carefully thinking of its reopening plan.


We also want to remind that it is better to still suggest the elderly should spent most of time at home during the early stage of the reopening. People with underlying medical conditions, who have a relatively higher risk of developing severe illness once contracting the virus, should be told to thoroughly practice good hygiene and to pay more attention to having their chronic diseases under control.

Data showed more than 22 million Americans have filed for unemployment since state-mandated lockdowns have been enforced. The spike in new jobless claims is believed to result from the lockdowns that have kept Americans from their workplaces and forced many companies to shutter or to lay off employees. With wearing a mask in public as a careful precaution measure, healthy young and middle-aged adults should be allowed to resume daily routines as soon as possible to avoid households’ miserable financial consequences of workplace shutdown. Probably it’s time for some states to ease lockdowns or any other similar restrictions with a carefully-formed exit strategy.