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Lessons From the Success of COVID-19 Control in Taiwan

Educational Objective
To identify the key insights or developments described in this article
1 Credit CME

Taiwan, an island nation of about 24 million people, has been extraordinarily successful in containing COVID-19. As of March 2021, there had been only 10 deaths and slightly more than 1000 cases. People live without fear of SARS-CoV-2.1

Even as the pace of vaccinations accelerates, there was still a 7-day moving average of more than 60 000 new COVID-19 cases and 1000 deaths a day in the US in late March 2021, daily totals that were comparable with those during the summer 2020 peak. What lessons does Taiwan’s initial success have for containing the epidemic? The answer is the need for a combination of case-based interventions (including testing, contact tracing, and quarantine) and population-based interventions (including physical distancing and facial masking with wide adherence) for control to be successful. Neither type of intervention alone would be sufficient, even in a country with an effective public health system, comprehensive contract tracing program, control of its borders, and wide adherence to physical distancing and the wearing of facial masks.

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Article Information

Published Online: April 6, 2021. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2021.1625

Corresponding Author: Robert Steinbrook, MD, JAMA Internal Medicine, Editorial Office, University of California, San Francisco, 505 Parnassus Ave, Ste M1180, PO Box 0124, San Francisco, CA 94143-0124 (robert.steinbrook@yale.edu).

Conflict of Interest Disclosures: None reported.

References
1.
Qin  A , Chien  AC . Covid? what Covid? Taiwan thrives as a bubble of normality. Accessed March 13, 2021. https://www.nytimes.com/2021/03/13/world/asia/taiwan-covid.html
2.
Ng  T-C , Cheng  H-Y , Chang  H-H ,  et al.  Comparison of estimated effectiveness of case-based and population-based interventions on COVID-19 containment in Taiwan.   JAMA Intern Med. Published online April 6, 2021. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2021.1644Google Scholar
3.
Cheng  H-Y , Jian  S-W , Liu  D-P , Ng  TC , Huang  WT , Lin  HH ; Taiwan COVID-19 Outbreak Investigation Team.  Contact tracing assessment of COVID-19 transmission dynamics in Taiwan and risk at different exposure periods before and after symptom onset.   JAMA Intern Med. 2020;180(9):1156-1163. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2020.2020PubMedGoogle ScholarCrossref
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