Since January 2020, the COVID-19 has spread in worldwide. Taiwan, an island with less than 1000 cases in 2020, earned praise by its success story. However, due to the outbreak in May 2021, Taiwanese government’s policy for pandemic control get blamed by the reasons like the relatively low vaccinated number. Coming to the end of 2021, while the world gets into the post-COVID era, and practice how to co-exist with the pandemic, Taiwan still applies strict border control.
When it comes to the “success story” in Taiwan, it is doubt that if the procedure Taiwanese government taken make this country more resilient to the pandemic, or just try to resist the outbreak with the cost of isolating from the global economy. To evaluate Taiwanese government’s policy on pandemic control, a framework will be introduced to analyze different aspects of the policy.
Research by Wang and Mao (2021) provides a content analysis based on the framework provided by WHO. Ten countries’ policy get issued in this framework and compared, but Taiwan is not included. Luis et al. (2020) provided their own framework for health planning, which is used for crisis like COVID-19. Based on a discussion process called rapid synthesis and translation process (RSTP), they converged the core elements of this framework from a series of webinars and online discussion. This framework based on seven countries’ case including Taiwan.
This presentation includes 3 parts,
- A summary for Taiwanese government’s policies for the COVID-19
- Frameworks for comparing the governments’ policy for the COVID-19
- Question and discussion for the frameworks
Since January 2020, the COVID-19 has spread in worldwide. Taiwan, an island with less than 1000 cases in 2020, earned praise by its success story.(James: 2020)
Figure 1 A CNN news in April 2020 claims that Taiwan performs well in response COVID-19
However, due to the outbreak in May 2021, Taiwanese government’s policy for pandemic control get blamed by the reasons like the relatively low vaccinated number. (Julia: 2021)
Figure 2 A CNN news pointed out Taiwan faces the biggest COVID-19 outbreak in May 2021
Coming to the end of 2021, while the world gets into the post-COVID era, and practice how to co-exist with the pandemic, Taiwan still applies strict border control. (Helen: 2021)
Figure 3 A Guardian news questions Taiwan’s pursuit of COVID zero.
2. Research Question
When it comes to the “success story” in Taiwan, it is doubt that if the procedure Taiwanese government taken make this country more resilient to the pandemic, or just try to resist the outbreak with the cost of isolating from the global economy. Thus, our research question is as follows, “how to evaluate Taiwan’s policy on COVID-19? If it is more resilience or resistance?”
This research is composed by four parts,
- What are Taiwan’s policies on COVID-19?
- Based on 1., how about Taiwan’s policies on COVID-19?
- Based on 2., are these polices lead Taiwan to more resilience or resistance?
- What might be the factors result in 3.?
3. Taiwan’s policy
To elaborate the study of Taiwan’s policies on COVID-19, we firstly draft a framework to collect information, and scan through Taiwan’s policies.
This drafted framework contains three parts,
- Statistic about COVID-19: To get a basic sense about the COVID-19 in Taiwan, such as infected cases, death cases, and vaccination coverage.
- Policy about COVID-19 control: Investigate the policy used to control the pandemic, such as regulation related to movement restriction or pandemic period. Besides, the economic activities also mentioned to provide context for the financial support.
- Plan for transition to new normal: To answer our research question, which is “how to evaluate Taiwan’s policy on COVID-19? If it is more resilience or resistance?”, this section explores the plan Taiwanese government made to transit into new normal. Evaluating these plans is assumed to indicate if Taiwan’s policy more resilience or resistance.
Table 1 is the drafted framework.
Table 1 A drafted framework to scan Taiwan’s policy on COVID-19
(Source: Made by the authors)
|Statistic about COVID-19|
|Infection cases (per capita)|
|Vaccination coverageFirst DoseFully VaccinatedVaccine Brand|
|Policy about COVID-19 control|
|Regulations Movement RestrictionAwareness and CampaigningPeriod|
|MobilityFunding/ Financial WorkforceManufacturing / Exporting Activities|
|Plan for transition to new normal|
|New Competitive Advantage|
|Resistance (Resist to Transform, Resist to Feel upright)|
Based on this framework, a short narrative is summarized to provide a simplified view of the pandemic in Taiwan, and the policies for controlling the pandemic, and transit into the new normal.
Until last Sunday (Nov 28 2021), there are 16,588 infected cases, and 848 death cases in Taiwan. In the case of vaccination coverage, 77.6 % of people in Taiwan get the first dose, while 53.3% of them get the second dose.
The main outbreak happened during this May to July. To explore the procedure Taiwan’s government made during the pandemic, it is essential to know the Taiwan’s 4 epidemic warning levels. Figure 2 provided a summary about this warning levels.
Figure 4 Taiwan’s 4 epidemic warning levels
During the outbreak, the central epidemic command center once raised the alarm level to 3rd in May 19 and lowed it to 2nd in Jul 27. This level maintained until now. Figure 5 shows the timeline of the level change during the outbreak.
Figure 5 The change of alarm levels during the outbreak in Taiwan, 2021.
(Source: Made by Author)
3.2. Manufacturing / Exporting Activities
Overall, Taiwan’s total foreign trade is US$631.77 billion. Export is US$345.2 billion, which creates the new record. And the import is US$286.49 billion. The net export is 58.79 billion US dollars, which also creates the new record. The official news explains the raise of both export and import might result from both the increased demand of technological product for distance business, and Taiwan performing well on pandemic control, which attracting Taiwanese enterprise return to invest. (Execute Yuan: 2021)
From the industry side, the Chinese national federation of industries (CNFI) published an investigation report in June 2021. In the report, it claims that even through the information and communication technology industry (ICT) get well orders, sometimes even full orders, in the first half of 2021, but the order starts to decline from both domestic and aboard. (CNIF: 2021)
3.3. Response to the pandemic
On the health side of response to the pandemic, there are 3 things highlighted from general procedure, which are domestic vaccines and harness digital technology for pandemic control.
The are 2 domestic vaccines get into trials II now. Once is MVC-COV1901. There has already 775,415 cases get the 1st dose, and 659,066 cases get the 2nd dose. (Until Nov 28 2021) (CDC: 2021) The other is UB-612. But this one failed to pass the Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) approval from the government, thus there has no case for vaccinated yet.
Besides, Taiwan’s government also use digital tools for the pandemic control. For example, Taiwan’s Centers for Disease Control (CDC) corporate with Taiwan AI Labs, and develop a mobile application called Taiwan Social Distance App. This social distancing app uses Bluetooth technology to alerts users if they are exposed to confirmed COVID-19 cases.
There are other examples like Taiwan CDC’s official LINE chatbot (疾管家), COVID-19 Vaccination Registration and Reservation System or mask-rationing plan.
From the economic side, policies are mainly based on a special act called Special Act for Prevention, Relief and Revitalization Measures for Severe Pneumonia with Novel Pathogens ( 嚴重特殊傳染性肺炎防治及紓困振興特別條例)
In this special act, there are three articles related to economic, which separately provide support to people engaged in disease prevention, people get influenced by the disease control, and organization whose employee get forced to leave for a period due to the pandemic.
- Article 2: Subsidies or allowances to medical personnel engaged in disease prevention and control, medical services, and care.
- Article 3: Individuals at any level to home isolation, home quarantine, group isolation, or quarantine, and family members who take leave or cannot work due to caring for quarantined individuals may apply for disease prevention compensation.
- Article 4: Organizations that pay employees salary during their leave period may deduct 200％ of their salary payment from its amount of income of the current year.
With this special act, each minister designs its own regulations. Besides, Taiwanese government also provide vouchers to stimulate consumption. In 2020, there is Triple Stimulus Vouchers. People can earn NT$3,000 voucher, roughly US$101, by paying NT$1,000. In 2021, there is Quintuple Stimulus Vouchers. People pay NT$1,000 and get NT$5,000 voucher.
3.4. Plan for transition to new normal
Until now, our research team haven’t discovered any official document directly claimed to have a plan for transit to new normal. But when the news released by the Executive Yuan mentioned about the Six Core Strategic Industries, which is an economic plan set by Taiwan’s president, it also stated that this plan aims at taking early advantage of global supply chain transformations in the post-pandemic era.
Figure 6 The six core strategic industries
4. Two frameworks on comparing issues on COVID-19
To measure Taiwan’s policy on COVID-19, comparative study can provide a relative standard to examine if Taiwan’s policy performs well.
Wang and Mao’s work (2021) provides a content analysis based on the framework provided by World Health Organization (WHO). Ten countries’ policy get issued in this framework and compared, but Taiwan is not included.
In their work, they adapted a framework provided by WHO, which is named “public health and social measures.” (PHSMs) This framework aims to include the measures or actions by different level of entities, from individual to international body, to slow or stop the spread of the pandemic, like COVID-19.
In this framework, there are five sets as follows,
- Movement measures
- Physical and social distancing measures
- Personal measures
- Special protection measures for special populations and vulnerable groups
- Strategies on public health resources
The comparative table is in Table 2.
Table 2 Public health and social measures policies on COVID-19 recommended by the WHO and issued by 10 countries. (Source: Wang & Mao: 961)
Before comparing the ten countries by the PHSMs framework, Wang and Mao’s team also compare the laws and regulations from these countries.
Based on the comparison, the authors claim that the PHSMs of these ten countries are homogenized. And this phenomenon even happened before the WHO released its toolkit of PHSMs. Based on this observation, the differences “lay in nations’ speed, strictness, and richness of resources when apply the measures and sub-measures of PHSMs.” (Wang & Mao: 968)
While Wang & Mao’s work adapted the framework from the WHO, Luis et al. (2020) provided their own framework for health planning. This framework is used for crisis like COVID-19. Based on a discussion process called rapid synthesis and translation process (RSTP), they converged the core elements of this framework from a series of webinars and online discussion. This framework based on seven countries’ case including Taiwan.
In this research, they claimed that concluded by the RSTP, there are five key domains need to be applied as a framework, which are,
- Phase/stages of the Pandemic
- Health System Indicators
- The Healthcare Ecosystem/Glocal Approach
- Digital Technologies
- International Comparisons and Evolution of the Pandemic
In their elaboration of these five domains, one notable point is that they think “Taiwan was the only country examined here that prepared for the pandemic, implementing measures well before the first declared case.” (Luis et al.: 583) And in the following statement, they believe the use of technologies like big data analytics, new technology, or proactive testing play an important role in the pandemic control.
In the case of comparing between different countries, they provided a table based on the webinars and local / national indicators. In this table, they use the narratives from the webinars and local-national semaphore visual and verbal analogues for comparing, which is Table 3.
Table 3 Severity and response to the COVID-19 active stage in selected regions and countries.
(Source: Luis et al.: 583)
5. Discussion about the two frameworks
On one hand, Wang and Mao’s work seems to focus on “public health and social measures” (PHSMs) like movement restriction, physical and social distancing measures, or strategies on public health resources. On the other hand, the research conducted by Luis’s team discussed more on the management side, including the discussion about the phase, indicators, ecosystem or digital technologies.
In the case of our drafted framework, while the 1. Statistic about COVID-19 and 2. Policy about COVID-19 control are like Wang’s framework, our work not just focus on the health side, but also include the economic side, which is more discussed in the 3. Plan for transition to new normal.
Besides, while Luis’s team focus on the management of pandemic control, our study wants to explore how these polices shape the economic in Taiwan in the near future. The 3. Plan for transition to new normal is used to address this issue, and it is alsothe discussion about the resilient and resistance.
Even so, these frameworks still provide us not only a more comprehensive view to evaluate the policies on COVID-19, but also rich cases for us to compare with.
Back to our research question, the frameworks introduced above help us to comparing with other countries in a more comprehensive framework, which belongs the 2nd question, “Based on 1., how about Taiwan’s policies on COVID-19?”
Since we haven’t compared Taiwan’ policy with other countries yet, and the definition of resilience and resistance are not discussed in this research, the 3rd question, “Based on 2., are these polices lead Taiwan to more resilience or resistance?” cannot be responded. Thus, the 4th question, “What might be the factors result in 3.?” Is left to answered.
6. Research Plan
In this progress report, I only present a glance on Taiwan’s policy on COVID-19, and a short literature review, which includes two frameworks from different point of view. The next step of this research is as follows,
- Information Collection
- Literature Review: Explore more literature related to comparative study on how different countries address the COVID-19 issue, and also the definition of some key words, like resilient, resistance or policy.
- Collecting information about the COVID-19 in Taiwan: There are still some of information related to the pandemic in Taiwan not included in our table. For example, the difference between industries during the pandemic. It might be helpful to sketch a line chart of different industries in Taiwan by time and try to compare the pattern with the idea of resilient or resistance.
- Research Method: A systematic way to do content analysis is required, and this method must be supported by the literature.
- Comparing with different countries: like Malaysia (which is what our team working on now) or put the information we get into the framework.
7. Potential Question
- What might be the value of this study?
- From the health side, it is obvious to evaluate the performance of the government by the cases. (Infected or death cases, or the vaccination coverage) What might be the bias to use these indicators? Besides, when we discuss about the economic side, what might be good indicators for evaluation? (GDP? The amount of export or import?) What might be the bias?
- These comparative studies only discuss what the government do during the pandemic, but rarely discuss about the dynamic between the government, industry, society, or even the international relationship of different countries. Even though we assume every countries take almost the same policy for the pandemic, the dynamic in these countries and the performance of the governments are supposed to be different. Thus, it seems like it will be a large bias to ignore the dynamic. How do you plan to deal with this issue?
- In Wang and Mao’s work, they compare different countries by the framework from the WHO, and pointed out the homogenized of the policy, or the difference are the speed, strictness, and richness of resources when apply the measures and sub-measures of PHSMs. However, it seems like they didn’t have conversation with the literature. Thus, wheat might be the academic value of this paper.
- In the research conducted by Luis’s team, they cited a paper which claims the technologies such as big data statistic play an important role on pandemic control. How to prove this causal relation? For example, maybe the well performance on pandemic control, and harness digital product well for the pandemic control are just share the same reason, and without causal relation.
- Chinese national federation of industries. (2021) 國內本土新冠疫情對產業影響調查報告 [Investigation report on the impact of the domestic new crown epidemic on the industry]. Chinese national federation of industries. http://eip.industry.org.tw/Upload/Post_Post/36727/1100615%E5%85%A8%E5%9C%8B%E5%B7%A5%E6%A5%AD%E7%B8%BD%E6%9C%83%E5%B0%8D%E5%9C%8B%E5%85%A7%E6%9C%AC%E5%9C%9F%E6%96%B0%E5%86%A0%E7%96%AB%E6%83%85%E5%B0%8D%E7%94%A2%E6%A5%AD%E5%BD%B1%E9%9F%BF%E8%AA%BF%E6%9F%A5%E5%A0%B1%E5%91%8A-f.pdf
- Taiwan Centers for Disease Control. (2021) 110/11/28 COVID-19 疫苗接種統計資料 [110/11/28 Statistic of COVID-19 vaccination] Taiwan Centers for Disease Control. https://www.cdc.gov.tw/File/Get/MdCFnT3yKEhC3N31zu2o3g
- Execute Yuan. (2021) 進出口貿易量 [Export and import trade amount]. Execute Yuan. https://www.ey.gov.tw/state/6A206590076F7EF/8b5032af-1a67-4c02-bd16-8791aa459cd2
- Department of Information Services, Executive Yuan. (2021) Promoting the Six Core Strategic Industries. Department of Information Services, Executive Yuan. https://english.ey.gov.tw/News3/9E5540D592A5FECD/208da633-0f71-439a-8ef6-3d1e2aea1f34
- Helen, D. (2021, Nov 8 ‘How long can you maintain it?’ Cost of Taiwan’s pursuit of Covid zero starts to show. The Guardian. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/nov/08/how-long-can-you-maintain-it-cost-of-taiwans-pursuit-of-covid-zero-starts-to-show
- James, G. (2020, April 5) Taiwan’s coronavirus response is among the best globally. CNN. https://edition.cnn.com/2020/04/04/asia/taiwan-coronavirus-response-who-intl-hnk/index.html
- Julia, H. (2021, May 17) Taiwan was a Covid success story. Now it’s fighting its biggest outbreak. CNN. https://edition.cnn.com/2021/05/17/asia/taiwan-covid-outbreak-intl-hnk/index.html
English Journal Paper
- Salvador-Carulla, L., Rosenberg, S., Mendoza, J., &Tabatabaei-Jafari, H. (2020). Rapid response to crisis: Health system lessons from the active period of COVID-19. Health Policy and Technology, 9(4), 578–586. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.hlpt.2020.08.011
- Wang, D., &Mao, Z. (2021). A comparative study of public health and social measures of COVID-19 advocated in different countries. Health Policy, 125(8), 957–971. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.healthpol.2021.05.016
 On February 2020, Medigen Vaccine Biologics Corporation (MVC) signed a collaboration agreement with U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) for COVID-19 vaccine development. (Then also collaborate with American company Dynavax Technologies) and On July 2021, it obtained Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) approval from the government.
Since August, it was open for registration on the COVID-19 publicly funded vaccine booking platform.
 UB-612 is developed by United Biomedical, Inc. Asia, USA company Vaxxinity (formerly known as COVAXX), and DASA.
In February 2021, UB-612 started phase II/III clinical trials.
The Ministry of Health and Welfare announced on the Aug that the EUA review of United Biomedical, Inc. Asia’s UB-612 vaccine failed to pass.
 Introduced by Taiwan’s Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Taiwan AI Labs, the social distancing app uses Bluetooth technology and alerts users if they are exposed to confirmed COVID-19 cases. According to the social distancing guidelines issued by Taiwan’s Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC), people are advised to stay at least 1 meter apart outdoors and 1.5 meters apart indoors. The app will notify users if they have been less than 2 meters from a confirmed case for more than two minutes.
 The Disease Control Butler, a chatbot available on the official LINE account (＠taiwancdc) of Taiwan Centers for Disease Control (Taiwan CDC), is provided by CDC in 2017.
This chatbot provides functions like clarifying rumors, answering infectious disease-related questions, or updating the circumstance about the pandemic. During the pandemic, it also provides the number of infected and death cases of COVID-19 by day, and the summary for the daily press conference holded by Taiwan’s Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC).
Taiwan Centers for Disease Control (TCDC) worked with HTC Corporation’s healthcare unit DeepQ to establish the Taiwan V-Watch System (hereinafter “”V-Watch System””) for health reporting after COVID-19 vaccination on Taiwan CDC’s official LINE chatbot Disease Control Butler. The V-Watch System allows members of the public to regularly report their health status after they receive the vaccination.
 The Central Epidemic Command Center unveiled the national online COVID-19 vaccination booking system in Jul 07 2021.
The vaccination booking system requires four steps,
b. receiving a text message informing a person to book an appointment
c. booking an appointment
d. receiving a vaccine according to the scheduled appointment.”
Log in using their national ID card number or Alien Resident Certificate number, as well as their NHI card number.
 On Feb. 6 2020, the Taiwan government launched a new rationing system for masks that was based on IDs and limited the quantity to two per person per week. News in September 07, 2021 points that convenience stores and supermarkets nationwide are to stop selling locally made masks through the National Health Insurance (NHI) system.
A Research Fellow in Rural Development and Revitalization