D H
May 4 · Last update 4 mo. ago.

What are the success stories in the battle against COVID-19?

The COVID-19 pandemic has undoubtedly been overwhelmingly tragic, but there have been a range of different approaches to the health crisis, and the efficacy of each approach is equally varied. By looking at the success stories of the pandemic we could possibly begin to recognise patterns and effective methods that could lead to determining the most successful method in dealing with the SARS-CoV-2 outbreak. Without diminishing the scale of the tragedy of the pandemic, what are the success stories in combatting the pandemic, and what are the pros and cons of this approach?
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New Zealand – strict border controls
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Vietnam – low cost model of virus control
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Taiwan – a pre-emptive response
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South Korea – swift comprehensive response
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Germany – immediate action
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Cuba – internationalism
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New Zealand – strict border controls

The New Zealand government were fairly late in reacting to the COVID-19 outbreak, only taking action in mid-March 2020. However a decisive science-driven response followed allowing for the rapid elimination of the virus, with all borders quickly being closed and a strict home quarantine put in place by the end of March. This gave the government time to put in place rigorous supervised quarantine measures, expand testing infrastructure, begin contact tracing, and step up surveillance, using a four point scale to communicate the level of action being taken – starting with the most severe level 4. These mandatory quarantine measures were some of the strictest in the world at the time, with only groceries, pharmacies, hospitals and petrol stations being allowed to stay open. The country subsequently lowered the threat level as cases subsided and the country seemingly eliminated the virus, but strict supervised quarantining measures remain at the borders to ensure new waves of imported infections are handled with the same ferocity.

Pros – Strict lockdown, strict supervised quarantine, late but rapid response, high level of faith in government Cons – High number of breaches of lockdown especially amongst young New Zealanders

newshub.co.nz/home/new-zealand/2020/04/coronavirus-timeline-of-new-zealand-s-response-to-covid-19.html theguardian.com/world/2020/apr/10/elimination-what-new-zealands-coronavirus-response-can-teach-the-world nationalgeographic.com/travel/2020/04/what-new-zealand-did-right-in-battling-coronavirus

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D H
Jun 15
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Vietnam – low cost model of virus control

Vietnam has probably been the miracle story of the COVID-19 pandemic, as despite sharing a border with China and not being economically capable of carrying out mass testing, Vietnam had a very small outbreak of COVID-19 and most staggeringly no deaths. This praise comes with a caveat however as what Vietnam lacked in resources it made up for with authoritarianism, utilising their well respected military, strong surveillance culture and a citizenship willing to inform local authorities of their neighbours lockdown misbehaviour. The government were able to impose a strict 14-day national quarantine that was largely adhered to, and used clear communication and tapped into Vietnamese nationalism and a wartime temperaments to earn compliancy.

While seemingly harsh, this immediate, clear and organised reaction has gained praise internationally and mirrors Vietnams earlier success in dealing with SARS in 2003, Vietnam being the first country to be cleared of this earlier outbreak. Immediacy, effective isolation policy, government financial support, transparency and a high level of charity helped Vietnam rapidly overcome COVID-19 while protecting the most vulnerable, in stark contrast to China, the US and Europe where cover-ups, indecision and inadequate or misguided government support enabled the virus to thrive. In this way Vietnam may have imposed a heavy handed authoritarian response, but it is one that worked.

Pros – Swift strict reaction, good communication, high level of charity, low cost Cons – Authoritarian, some outbreaks of Anti-Chinese sentiment, illegal mask manufacture and fraudulent testing kit transactions, reliant on citizen informing authorities, authoritarian response

weforum.org/agenda/2020/03/vietnam-contain-covid-19-limited-resources npr.org/sections/coronavirus-live-updates/2020/04/16/835748673/in-vietnam-there-have-been-fewer-than-300-covid-19-cases-and-no-deaths-heres-why ft.com/content/0cc3c956-6cb2-11ea-89df-41bea055720b

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D H
Jun 15
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Taiwan – a pre-emptive response

Like South Korea, Taiwan had the experience of the 2004 SARS epidemic to help inform their reaction to COVID-19, and the government had established the National Health Command Center (NHCC) organised under the Taiwan Centers for Disease Control. As a result Taiwan put in place preventative measures before the first case was even registered in the country, thoroughly inspecting inbound flights, screening for pathogens, quarantining those with a fever, and putting the whole country on high alert before SARS-CoV-2 was even identified. Overall the Government of Taiwan’s response to COVID-19 has been both affective and well received, with a massively low level of spread and death compared to similar size populations such as Australia. The governments response polled well with the approval ratings increasing over the pandemic and the health minister in particular was applauded for swift decision making and frank statements on the matter.

Pros – Pre-emptive action, good communication, strict quarantine, comprehensive track and trace, flight screening Cons – Taiwan has banned the export of masks and boosted mask production due to national shortages

time.com/5805629/coronavirus-taiwan scmp.com/news/china/politics/article/3082504/taiwan-rewards-health-minister-chen-shih-chungs-coronavirus usnews.com/news/best-countries/articles/2020-03-10/lessons-learned-from-taiwans-response-to-coronavirus theage.com.au/world/asia/population-the-same-as-australia-s-but-a-fraction-of-the-coronavirus-cases-20200412-p54j67.html

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D H
Jun 14
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South Korea – swift comprehensive response

South Korea did have the power of hindsight in their reaction to the viral outbreak, having dealt with outbreaks of SARS in 2002 and MERS in 2015, encouraging probably the most import aspect of their reaction, acting swiftly. Following the news of a massive breakout at a church in Daegu the government quickly ordered strict isolation of everyone confirmed to have fallen ill and began a comprehensive track and trace approach, attempting to trace the exact movement of the virus. The government then sort medical companies to start producing test kits, setting up six hundred drive through testing centres across the country and testing more people in the first month of the crisis than the US, UK France, Italy and Japan put together. This swift but heavy handed response has so far kept South Koreas confirmed cases and, more importantly, deaths from COVID-19 incredibly low despite the country's proximity to China.

Pros – Rapid comprehensive response, adequate viral tracing, strict shift lockdown imposed, widespread testing. Cons – Intrusive and surveillance based tracking, strict lockdown encouraging social distancing inside households,

aljazeera.com/programmes/specialseries/2020/05/coronavirus-lessons-asia-200501110507558.html edition.cnn.com/2020/04/30/opinions/eye-opening-south-korea-study-on-covid-19-sepkowitz/index.html sciencemag.org/news/2020/03/coronavirus-cases-have-dropped-sharply-south-korea-whats-secret-its-success aljazeera.com/news/2020/03/south-korea-coronavirus-lessons-quick-easy-tests-monitoring-200319011438619.html theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/mar/20/south-korea-rapid-intrusive-measures-covid-19

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D H
Jun 14
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Germany – immediate action

In Europe Germany has managed to achieve a low fatality rate when compared to other European hot spots of Italy and Spain, experts believe that Germany has faired well so far due to carrying out one of the most aggressive testing regimes in the world, maintaining a high level of trust in the government, and the country’s immediate and decisive government action and messaging. Germany’s government quickly sought the advice of the Robert Koch Institute, the national disease research institute, and immediately put in place a national pandemic plan; closing schools, prohibiting nursing home visits, closing borders, impose curfews and travel restrictions. The good domestic handling of the pandemic demonstrated by Germany is in stark contrast to the lack of handling internationally by nations that were slow or disorganised in their reaction to the crisis, however some have criticised Germany for their slow international effort at fighting the virus. For this reason Germany may be a positive populist demonstration of successfully controlling a massive viral outbreak.

Pros – Good pre-emptive handling of the virus, clear messaging, strict guidelines, high level of government trust, robust and well resourced healthcare system. Cons – Despite all the adequate planning in Germany the government failed to communicate with manufacturers and suppliers and subsequently suffered a mask shortage, similar throughout many countries. They were also slow to help neighbouring regions, imposing limits on medical exports, and potentially worsening the virus elsewhere.

dw.com/en/germanys-coronavirus-response-separating-fact-from-fiction/a-53053822 nbcnews.com/news/world/why-are-so-few-germans-dying-coronavirus-experts-wonder-n1168361 foxnews.com/health/germany-coronavirus-outbreak-no-deaths theguardian.com/world/2020/mar/11/italy-criticises-eu-being-slow-help-coronavirus-epidemic

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D H
May 15
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DH edited this paragraph
Pros – Good pre-emptive handling of the virus, clear messaging, strict guidelines, high level of government trust, robust and well resourced healthcare system. Cons – Despite all the adequate planning in Germany the government failed to communicate with manufacturers and suppliers and subsequently suffered a mask shortage, similar throughout many countries. They were also slow to help neighbouring regions, imposing limits on medical exports, and potentially worsening the virus elsewhere.

Cuba – internationalism

The Cuban protocol to dealing with the COVID-19 outbreak was informed by a long history of economic sanctions from the US, prolonged investment in public healthcare, and a tradition sending doctors abroad in order to boost the country's image and international relations. Before even being significantly hit by the virus, 22 antiviral medicines were made available from Cuba biotech firms. Through developing treatments both domestically and in joint ventures with China, Cuba generated a large enough product inventory to deal with an outbreak “equivalent to treating practically all the infected cases that occurred in China” [1]. Cuba has been so well prepared on the medicinal front they are even helping other nations in dealing with their COVID-19 outbreak, having requests from 15 nations for Cuban drugs and sending healthcare professionals and assisting other nations with planning and infrastructure to help in the fight against the pandemic. Pros – Developed there own medicines, repurposed manufacturing for medical supplies, have very high number of doctors per capita, engaging in international diplomacy to help other nations. Cons – This may have only been possible due to the fact that the island nation is isolated and currently has a fairly low level of viral outbreak.

jacobinmag.com/2020/3/cuba-coronavirus-braemar-doctors-health-care [1] oncubanews.com/en/cuba/cuba-has-medicines-for-thousands-of-possible-cases-of-covid-19 eturbonews.com/567170/could-cuba-save-italy-and-the-world-from-coronavirus

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May 4
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