Taiwan acknowledges room to improve in COVID-19 response

Nov 19, 2021, 2:21 AM | Updated: 1:20 pm

TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) — The task force in charge of Taiwan’s COVID-19 response has acknowledged that the island could have done better in fighting the disease, after 12 families that lost relatives to the pandemic filed a claim seeking financial compensation from the government.

The families allege that the authorities were underprepared despite having more than a year during which there were few cases, resulting in unnecessary deaths and suffering.

Taiwan managed to largely keep out the coronavirus for nearly a year and a half, with 1,199 cases and 12 deaths as of May 10. The virus then swept through the island, powered by the contagious alpha variant, and Taiwan has now recorded 16,516 cases and 848 deaths.

Asked about the families’ claim, the Central Epidemic Command Center said the island’s initial success in keeping the virus out resulted in it not having enough COVID-19 tests to detect it.

“Taiwan was effective in sealing its borders, but there is still space for improvement in its defenses within its borders,” it said in a statement provided to The Associated Press. “Because the past pandemic control measures were appropriate, there was no need for large-scale COVID-19 tests, and because of this the surveillance system was not able to uncover asymptomatic carriers. In addition, the public’s willingness to get vaccinated was low.”

Lawyers representing the families presented a request for a national compensation case last week to both the Ministry of Health and Welfare, which oversees the Central Epidemic Control Center, and the Executive Yuan, Taiwan’s Cabinet.

A statement from the Executive Yuan on Thursday expressed compassion, but did not take a position on compensation.

“The government expresses our sympathy for the families’ deaths, and as for the legal process of seeking compensation, the Executive Yuan respects their request and will require the responsible authorities to follow the law and provide help accordingly,” it said.

Family members say that at the height of the outbreak, their loved ones did not have access to drugs such as the antibody treatments that are widely used in the U.S. and elsewhere to prevent cases from becoming more serious.

When the outbreak was at its peak in mid-May, the island had no antibody treatments and only 1,800 units of Remdesivir, an antiviral drug, the Central Epidemic Control Center said. Both are used to treat COVID-19.

Still, it defended its response for the most part, saying it had put many controls in place. “We were able to suppress large-scale community spread and speed up the procurement of vaccines and vaccinations,” it said.

The task force did not respond when asked whether it had decided to buy antibody medications before the May outbreak.

The families also said that drugs such as Remdesivir were restricted from wide use and doctors had to apply for permission from central health authorities to use it.

The epidemic control center said it looked at which drugs in 10 of the most developed countries had received emergency-use approval — including U.S. government guidelines, expert opinions and research data — before adding antibody treatments to their treatment guidelines for doctors in early June.

The U.S. FDA approved emergency use of one antibody treatment in November 2020 and another in February of this year.

Taiwan is now recording new daily cases in single digits and has on hand enough Remdesivir to treat about 11,000 patients and antibody treatments for 4,700 people.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


In this combination of photos from video provided by ESPN, pitcher Kaiden Shelton (29), of Pearland...
Associated Press

Beaned Little League batter rises to console upset pitcher

WACO, Texas (AP) — A Little League batter rose from a beaning to console the upset pitcher in a dramatic scene at a Little League regional tournament game Tuesday in Waco, Texas. The incident happened during a Little League Southwest Regional Playoff final. Righthander Kaiden Shelton of Pearland, Texas, was facing batter Isaiah Jarvis of […]
21 hours ago
FILE - Gas prices are displayed at a Sunoco gas station along the Ohio Turnpike near Youngstown, Oh...
Associated Press

US inflation will likely stay high even as gas prices fall

WASHINGTON (AP) — Americans may finally be catching a break from relentlessly surging prices — if just a slight one — even as inflation is expected to remain painfully high for months. Thanks largely to falling gas prices, the government’s inflation report for July, to be released Wednesday morning, is expected to show that prices […]
21 hours ago
A bicyclist rides past a barn with political banner on it as the sun rises on primary election day,...
Associated Press

Republicans to pick Senate candidate to challenge Blumenthal

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — A former state legislator and a GOP fundraiser who received a late endorsement from former President Donald Trump were locked Tuesday in a tight primary contest for U.S. Senate that could signal where the state Republican party is headed politically after years of backing moderates. The race pits former state House […]
21 hours ago
Recent college graduate Liu Qian walks along a street in Beijing, Thursday, July 7, 2022. Liu is on...
Associated Press

China’s youth face bleak job market as COVID slows economy

BEIJING (AP) — Liu Qian, job-hunting with a new master’s degree, said two employers interviewed her and then said the positions had been eliminated. Others asked her to take lower pay. She is one of 11 million new graduates desperate for work in a bleak job market as anti-virus controls force factories, restaurants and other […]
21 hours ago
FILE - A man holds a sign urging increased access to the monkeypox vaccine during a protest in San ...
Associated Press

US will stretch monkeypox vaccine supply with smaller doses

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. health officials on Tuesday authorized a plan to stretch the nation’s limited supply of monkeypox vaccine by giving people just one-fifth the usual dose, citing research suggesting that the reduced amount is about as effective. The so-called dose-sparing approach also calls for administering the Jynneos vaccine with an injection just under […]
21 hours ago
FILE - Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Wash., speaks at a Memorial Day observance event on May 30, 20...
Associated Press

WA GOP House member who voted to impeach Trump concedes

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, one of two Republican members of Washington’s congressional delegation who voted to impeach Donald Trump, has conceded her reelection bid after being overtaken in late vote tallies by a GOP challenger endorsed by the former president. Trump had targeted the six-term incumbent and endorsed Joe Kent, a […]
21 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Ways to prevent clogged drains and what to do if you’re too late

While there are a variety of ways to prevent clogged drains, it's equally as important to know what to do when you're already too late.
Mayo Clinic Orthopedics and Sports Medicine

Why your student-athlete’s physical should be conducted by a sports medicine specialist

Dr. Anastasi from Mayo Clinic Orthopedics and Sports Medicine in Tempe answers some of the most common questions.
Carla Berg, MHS, Deputy Director, Public Health Services, Arizona Department of Health Services

Vaccines are safe if you are pregnant or breastfeeding

Are you pregnant? Do you have a friend or loved one who’s expecting?
Taiwan acknowledges room to improve in COVID-19 response