Covid-19 Apr 08

Bill Gates lauds Taiwan’s coronavirus response

Microsoft founder tells Fox News US could learn from island nation's epidemic control policies

by Dave Makichuk
Bill Gates lauds Taiwan’s coronavirus response
Although the Gates Foundation had donated US$100 million to fight the coronavirus, Gates claimed the US government was very slow to respond. Photo: Handout.

Microsoft founder Bill Gates openly praised Taiwan’s quick response to the coronavirus outbreak, during an interview with Fox News, Taiwan News reported.

During an interview with Chris Wallace on the Fox News program “Fox News Sunday,” Gates cited Taiwan as a primary example of a country that has handled the pandemic more effectively than others, the report said. 

He also suggested that the US could learn from the island nation’s epidemic control policies.

Although the Gates Foundation had donated US$100 million to fight the disease, Gates claimed the US government was very slow to respond.

When asked what the setback of two months had cost the US, Gates highlighted Taiwan as an “exemplary” country because it quickly identified the problem and initiated community-wide testing early on, prioritizing who got tested first, the report said. 

He said that as a result, Taiwan would not suffer from the “disease burden or economic effect” that other nations would.

Like Taiwan, Gates stated that virus testing and distribution of ventilators in the US should be managed on a nationwide level. 

Gates, who in a Ted Talk in 2015 warned that the US was not ready for a serious virus outbreak, suggested that if the US had heeded his advice, it would already be able to field large numbers of test kits, an abundance of drugs and the ability to develop a vaccine more quickly.

“The world is simply not prepared to deal with a disease — an especially virulent flu, for example—that infects large numbers of people very quickly,” Gates said at the time. 

“Of all the things that could kill 10 million people or more, by far the most likely is an epidemic.

“I believe we can prevent such a catastrophe by building a global warning and response system for epidemics,” he said. 

“It would apply the kind of planning that goes into national defense — systems for recruiting, training, and equipping health workers, investments in new tools — to the effort to prevent and contain outbreaks.”

In contrast, Taiwan had learned valuable lessons from the SARS outbreak which caused 181 deaths in the country in 2003, the report said. 

Among the lessons learned were the requirement for a centralized command center to fight epidemics, which led to the creation of Taiwan’s Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC), and the necessity to be highly skeptical of data and information released by China.

On Dec. 31 of 2019, Taiwan questioned the World Health Organization (WHO) about the possibility of human-to-human transmission of the virus but never received a response, prompting them to investigate it on their own.