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Taiwan health minister says coronavirus will likely become ‘endemic'

Chen Shih-chung warns of possibility of recurring waves after HK reinfection case

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Taiwan health experts say coronavirus likely to become endemic. 

Taiwan health experts say coronavirus likely to become endemic.  (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taiwan Health Minister and Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) head Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) said Tuesday (Aug. 25) that it is highly likely that the coronavirus will never truly go away and repeated vaccinations will be required to contain its spread.

In response to Hong Kong's first documented coronavirus reinfection case on Monday (Aug. 24), Chen said at a Ministry of Health and Welfare (MOHW) event that the case supports the hypothesis of coronavirus becoming a recurring problem. He said it is too early to make such an assumption, but it appears that the deadly virus will stay around for a long time based on current studies.

Chen said experts had envisioned two scenarios if the coronavirus is not contained: it disappears like what happened with SARS in 2003 or it becomes "endemic" and continues to circulate permanently in the human population. If the less desirable outcome does take place, he said regular vaccination will most certainly be needed to prevent the virus from spreading.

Meanwhile, the health minister assured that the authorities have drawn up potential countermeasures from Taiwan's experiences with seasonal flu. He added that related simulations have been held by the CECC, reported UDN.

Former Vice President and senior public health expert Chen Chien-jen (陳建仁) has also warned previously of recurring epidemic waves. He said Taiwan should place its main focus on the development and production of rapid COVID-19 test kits, antiviral drugs, as well as an effective vaccine, reported Radio Taiwan International.

On Monday, a 33-year-old Hong Kong man was confirmed to have been reinfected four months after his initial recovery. The researchers said that different virus strains were found in the two infections, which proves that coronavirus reinfection is possible and that herd immunity might not be as effective as some have suggested, reported New Talk.

Taiwan health minister says coronavirus will likely become ‘endemic'
Chen Shih-chung speaks to media Aug. 25. (CNA photo)


Updated : 2020-12-02 00:03 GMT+08:00