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Former Taiwan VP, lead SARS researcher share insights into post-pandemic future

At National Cheng Kung University's 'Master's Talks' series, former VP Chen Chien-jen and virologist Michael Lai say people must learn to coexist with COVID

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Former NCKU President Michael Lai, and former Taiwan Vice President Chen Chien-jen speak at a workshop on post-pandemic future, Tuesday, Oct...

Former NCKU President Michael Lai, and former Taiwan Vice President Chen Chien-jen speak at a workshop on post-pandemic future, Tuesday, Oct... (Taiwan News photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taiwan's National Cheng Kung University (NCKU) on Tuesday (Oct. 19) brought together the country's two most influential public health scientists in a workshop, where speakers said that people must learn to live with the evolving COVID-19 virus.

A month after briefing U.S. President Joe Biden and other world leaders on how the "Taiwan Model" works in the fight against the pandemic, former Taiwan Vice President Chen Chien-jen (陳建仁) once again attributed the country's success to its prompt response, transparent governance, and technological innovations.

To prove his point, Chen cited a non-partisan U.S. study that said Taiwan has recorded the lowest death rates as well as GDP loss among 40 advanced economies since the start of 2020. He also lauded the government's various stimulus measures to help mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on business.

"Wearing a mask, keeping social distance, quarantining, as well as improving COVID-19 vaccination coverage have been proven to be helpful in containing the spread of the virus," he said.

The other keynote speaker was Taiwan virologist and Academia Sinica researcher Michael Lai (賴明詔). Lai was dubbed as the "father of the coronavirus" after successfully leading a research team in 2003 to contain SARS, a viral respiratory disease caused by a coronavirus. He served as NCKU president from 2007-2011.

Lai said vaccines can reduce the transmission of the virus, its severe complications, and its death rate, though it will continue to mutate and linger. However, he said, it could pose less danger over time and become something more akin to a seasonal flu. "Humans must eventually learn to live with the COVID-19 virus," he added.

NCKU President Su Huey-jen (蘇慧貞) said the two outstanding scientists embody the philosophy of the school, which stresses humility and perseverance for the purpose of benefiting society as a whole. She noted that the fight against the virus would be a prolonged and difficult journey but that knowledge, a positive attitude, and vaccines will help people to prevail.

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Former Taiwan VP, lead SARS researcher share insights into post-pandemic future
(Taiwan News photo)