The outbreaks in the United States and the United Kingdom, which were originally the hardest hit by the plague, have been largely under control and the economies are moving toward full openness because of efficient vaccines. However, many Asian countries, such as Thailand, Japan, India, and Taiwan, which have been the envy of the world for their outstanding achievements in controlling the plague last year, have seen a new wave of outbreaks of varying degrees.
Compared to the new wave of outbreaks in countries around the world, the outbreak in Taiwan is not very serious. According to statistics from Oxford University’s Our World in Data, as of May 30, Taiwan’s seven-day average daily number of new cases was 23 per million people. In the same time period, Japan was 29 cases and Thailand was 55 cases. In the United States, the figure is 61, and in the United Kingdom, 45. This is already a figure where the epidemic is under control and the economy can be reopened. In Sweden, which has been a model student in Europe in the fight against the epidemic, the figure is 143, which is already much lower than before, and the government has called on the public to stop wearing masks.
The West lost the fight against the epidemic in Asia, and the numbers when the epidemic was under control were higher than when the epidemic was considered out of control in Asian countries. This is not the same as saying that Asian countries can be lax as a result. In fact, Taiwan’s government has put many European and American countries to shame by releasing information about the outbreak, implementing anti-epidemic alerts, searching for vaccines from overseas, promoting domestic vaccines and other categories, and the self-discipline of the public in this outbreak. It is believed that Taiwan will be able to suppress this outbreak in no time.
For the past year or so, the world has been closed. At the same time, life in Taiwan has been business as usual, restaurants and movie theaters have never closed, and Kenting is still crowded on holidays. While the world is fighting the epidemic, some of our friends in Taiwan can spend their energy changing their names to “salmon” in exchange for free sushi, or getting married and divorced to cheat their way to paid vacation. This luxury of boredom is not easy to come by. Taiwan is only experiencing a little bit of it now, but the world has already experienced more than a year of more than ten times the seriousness of living at home against the epidemic, so we really should not panic.
But inside and outside the island of Taiwan, there are just a bunch of people who are very surprised that there is no half-hearted affirmation when it comes to Taiwan supporting the miracle of fighting the epidemic for more than a year. Some are looking for trouble, speculating on issues such as lean meat extract in American pigs. Whenever there was a late outbreak, they took the lead in spreading panic, and they criticized the government for whatever guidelines it issued and how it responded, as if the effectiveness of the Taiwanese government was worse than that of Zimbabwe or Venezuela.
The epidemic was completely repelled by a vaccine. And that strange bunch of people, many of whom took the lead in spreading doubts about the vaccine when Taiwan received the internationally recognized AZ vaccine supply, some of whom even stated as physicians that they would not get the vaccine. The government’s international search for high quality vaccines was blocked by the Chinese factor, and they didn’t say anything halfway. Now that the epidemic has broken out, these people have taken the lead in calling out the government for its incompetence in procuring vaccines and advocating the importation of Chinese vaccines.
How effective the Chinese vaccine is remains a mystery. China’s CDC director, Gao Fu, admits that the protection rate of domestic vaccines is not high enough to be improved, and says he wants to study mixing and matching mRNA vaccines developed in the West. Currently the five countries with the highest vaccination rates in the world are Israel, Seychelles, Chile, Bahrain, and the UAE, and the number of vaccine doses received per hundred people has exceeded one hundred. However, with the exception of Israel, which has managed to contain the epidemic using Western vaccines, the epidemic is still out of control or even worsening in the remaining four countries that mainly use Chinese vaccines: in terms of the seven-day average number of confirmed doses per million people per day, Seychelles is 2006, Bahrain is 1688, Chile is 356, and the UAE is 187.
The Maldives, which already has close to ninety percent of its population vaccinated with at least one dose of the vaccine, is supplied mainly by China, yet it is currently the country with the worst outbreak in the world, with a seven-day average of 2,051 new diagnoses per million people, 15 times higher than the 134 cases in India, where vaccination rates are ultra-low (only 15 people per hundred have had at least one shot).
Those who are strangely active in advocating Taiwan’s purchase of Chinese vaccines are like the pile of people who moved in early 2020 to argue for humanity over xenophobia and righteous indignation against sealing the border to China. Whether they are confused and confused, or whether they are intent on sabotaging the fight against the epidemic, we should not speculate too much. But what is certain is that until their distorted arguments fall, Taiwan will not be able to fight the epidemic.