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Taiwan health expert calls for predicting COVID path using mortality rates

Taiwan should look to other countries for death rate analyses, says Chan Chang-chuan

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Chan Chang-chuan, professor at the College of Public Health at National Taiwan University.

Chan Chang-chuan, professor at the College of Public Health at National Taiwan University. (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — A public health expert in Taiwan has urged for a closer look at COVID-induced fatality rates as a gauge of how the pandemic is playing out in the country.

Death figures can serve as an important reference to see how the disease is being managed. Especially since the real scale of the pandemic may be underestimated after countries have moved to accept rapid test results as confirmed cases without PCR test verification, according to Chan Chang-chuan (詹長權), professor at the College of Public Health at National Taiwan University.

Examining how death numbers fluctuate not on a daily basis, but on a weekly or fortnightly basis, helps paint a clearer picture of whether the outbreak has worsened or abated. The time it takes for the number of deaths to double can also be used as an indicator, Chan believes.

A similar pattern was seen between South Korea and Taiwan in terms of mortality rates and peak figures in outbreaks caused by the Omicron variant. This was based on the number of deaths per million people available via Our World in Data between mid-May 2021 and June 7, 2022.

Meanwhile, Taiwan ranked second-fastest globally in the time needed for death numbers to double, according to Our World in Data figures on June 7. Taiwan registered 13 days, compared to 81 days for South Korea, 192 for Singapore, and 298 for Japan.

More comparisons can be drawn between Taiwan and other countries to produce a forecast of how COVID may evolve, Chan suggested. The analyses can then be applied to determine which response measures should be adopted for effective and efficient control of the virus, he concluded.