Letter: Taiwan and COVID

Published: 11/25/2020 12:02:23 AM

Archie Richards’s Nov. 19 letter from Libertopia, claiming that Taiwan’s remarkable success in dealing with the pandemic was because it “imposed fewer controls against COVID-19 than any nation in the world” neglects inconvenient facts. Most of the measures Taiwan took in response to the pandemic are anathema to libertarians like Richards.

Taiwan’s experience with SARS in 2003 led the nation to develop a strong plan for dealing with future pandemics – something notably absent in our own country, which relies increasingly on marketplace magic for its salvation. With 250,000 deaths and counting, we may realize such faith is unwarranted, and that strong leadership and effective logistics and planning by the federal government is essential before the next pandemic.

In Taiwan, testing for COVID was widely available at low cost. A mask mandate was implemented and enforced with fines and social shaming for violators. Domestic PPE production quickly ramped up. The government used smartphone technology for contact tracing and quarantining. Medical professionals had access to medical records with near-real time data on hospital visits and patient symptoms, as an integral part of Taiwan’s universal health care system, enabling health officials to stay ahead of potential virus outbreaks.

Perhaps most important, Taiwan’s community-oriented mindset meant public health measures were adopted readily and widely. By contrast, we prize individualism and personal freedom above the common good. Which begs a question, given our dismal response to the pandemic, thanks to reliance on neoliberal marketplace rules: How truly free are we?




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