Foreign Minister Joseph Wu says Taiwan is eager to work with India to fight the COVID-19 pandemic
In an interview with the Hindu newspaper, Taiwan’s foreign minister, Joseph Wu, said in an interview with the Hindu newspaper that Taiwan had proposed establishing regular channels of communication with India to contact medical institutions to better cooperate in the fight against COVID-19.
He said Taiwan’s sharing of COVID-19 information with other countries is limited by arrangements between Taiwan and the World Health Organization .DA. There has been dynamic and continuous communication on many levels. We share information… Limited to the International Health Regulations as a focus… This arrangement is far from satisfactory. Information was not shared in time,” he said.
What are the main lessons from Taiwan’s experience in fighting COVID-19?
The SARS we experienced in 2003 was traumatic. Experience has taught Taiwan that rapid action to ensure advanced deployment is key to preventing the spread of the epidemic. In addition, our Government has been transparent and kept up-to-date with the public. That is why Taiwan’s disease-resistant model has been shown to be effective. On 21 January, when the first case of the coronavirus arrived, we established the Central Outbreak Command Centre (CECC).
We quickly issued a ban on the export of critical medical supplies. We have designated 160 test facilities across the country. From these facilities, patients are either sent to one of 134 medical facilities with milder cases or to 50 large regional centers for more serious cases. The system allows us to quickly isolate patients based on their severity and assign medical staff and equipment. I would like to point out that the NHS, which covers 99 percent of our people, is key to our successful allocation of vital supplies and tracking contacts.
Is There a Connection between Taiwan and India during the pandemic?
Despite the lack of formal diplomatic relations between Taiwan and India, the two countries set up representative offices in each other’s capitals in 1995. Since then, we have engaged in dynamic and continuous communication at many levels. However, our sharing of information on COVID-19 is limited to relying on the International Health Regulations (IHR) focal point under WHO. This arrangement is far from satisfactory. The information was not shared in a timely manner. The epidemic did not attract the attention it deserved globally until late January, and WHO eventually declared it a public health emergency of international concern. In retrospect, it is clear that the international community is not fully aware of the dangers of a devastating epidemic.
Do you think Taiwan and India can work together to fight the epidemic?
Let me give you two examples of how we have done so. First, on February 20th, researchers at the Sinica Institute announced that they had synthesized more than 100 milligrams of Remdesivir, an experimental treatment of COVID-19 with a purity of 97%. The team, including two members from India, was only two weeks old. The second is how Taiwan’s medical institutions share relevant information.
On 2 and 14 April, two Sino-Indian COVID-19 webinars were held. These are the result of a collaboration between the National Success University Hospital and the All Indian Academy of Medical Sciences. More than 14,000 health care workers in India benefited from these webinars. Doctors in Taiwan have shared their experiences in fighting the flu pandemic, including testing methods, treatment methods, infection control methods, and measures related to masks. In addition, Taiwan will provide masks to India to support front-line medical personnel. Taiwan is eager to work with India to combat COVID-19.
Is Taiwan concerned about the disruption of the global supply chain for medicines and personal protective equipment?
The continued spread of COVID-19 affects the global drug supply chain. The price of active pharmaceutical ingredients has risen. Taiwan is naturally affected to some extent. Our government has been working with domestic drugmakers to procure the required input from companies such as India, Europe or the United States.
Do you think there is room for Coordination between India and Taiwan in this regard?
Information-sharing and multilateral coordination play a key role in the prevention of pandemics. Joint efforts are needed to ensure the security of the world. I would like to see our research team interact and engage more closely in medicine and related technologies. Taiwan and India could consider establishing regular communication channels between our medical institutions to ensure the availability of medical resources.
Can you share it with US when Taiwan first alerts WHO about human-to-human transmission and response?
Taiwan’s Centers for Disease Control has learned online that there have been at least seven cases of atypical pneumonia in Wuhan, China. In China, the term “atypical pneumonia” usually refers to SARS, a disease transmitted from person to person by a coronavirus. On 31 December 2019, Taiwan sent an e-mail to the World Health Organization ‘s (WHO) IHR focal point informing WHO of its understanding of the disease and requesting further information from WHO.
What do you think are the key lessons for WHO in the future?
Since the outbreak of the pandemic at the beginning of this year, Taiwan is willing to share its experience with the WHO and other countries, although WHO has said little about disease prevention in Taiwan. If Taiwan were to participate fully in the World Health Organization, and if Taiwan could interact with other countries on an equal footing within the framework of WHO, more countries would receive warnings from Taiwan.
Today’s world may be different. Where possible, Taiwan is willing and eager to continue to provide medical supplies to countries suffering from the disease. Taiwan, for example, recently donated more than 17 million medical masks to countries around the world. We are also making donation arrangements for India, an important partner of Taiwan. We will continue to share Taiwan’s experience with the world in the spirit of “Taiwan can help”.