Session 4 – Combating Pandemics (A)
Date: 22 July (Wednesday) 14:00 – 15:30 (GMT+8)
Venue: 701EF, 7F, TaiNEX2 / Online event platform
Prof. Chen, Chien-Jen received his Sc.D. in epidemiology and human genetics from the Johns Hopkins University (1983). He then worked as an associate professor (1983-1986) and professor (1986-2006) of National Taiwan University. He was appointed as the director of Graduate Institute of Public Health (1993-1994), founding director of Graduate Institute of Epidemiology (1994-1997), and dean of College of Public Health in National Taiwan University (1999-2002). He became a distinguished research fellow of Genomics Research Center of Academia Sinica (2006-2015), and was appointed as a vice president of the academy (2011-2015). He was appointed as the Minister of Department of Health (2003-2005) and Minister of National Science Council (2006-2008). He was elected as the 14th Vice President of the Republic of China (Taiwan) (2016-2020). He is now a distinguished research fellow of Genomics Research Center, Academia Sinica.
Prof. Chen has dedicated himself to molecular and genomic epidemiological research on chronic arsenic poisoning and virus-induced cancers over 35 years. His discoveries of multiple health hazards of arsenic in drinking water has led to the global awareness and prevention of the largest environmental calamity, and his research on end-stage liver disease risk prediction of chronic hepatitis B has pioneered the viral load paradigm in its clinical management. He has published over 735 scientific articles and over 75 books/chapters, which have been cited for over 85,000 times with an H-index over 135 (Google Scholar).
Prof. Chen has received many awards including Presidential Science Prize, the most prestigious science award in Taiwan; Knowledge for the World Award, Johns Hopkins University, USA; Cutter Lectureship on Preventive Medicine, Harvard University, USA; Order of Dr. Sun Yat-sen with Grand Cordon, Office of the President, Taiwan; Knight, Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem and Pontifical Equestrian Order of St. Gregory the Great, Vatican; and Officier dans l’Ordre des Palmes Academiques, Ministry of Education, France. He was elected as an academician of Academia Sinica, a member of World Academy of Sciences, and a Foreign Associate (international member) of US National Academy of Sciences.
Speech title & Synopsis
Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) hit Taiwan in 2003 and revealed many flaws and inadequacies in our epidemic prevention system. We started to rebuild the system after the outbreak abated. The three major principles underpinning our current measures for countering COVID-19 were mainly established after SARS. They are prudent action, rapid response, and early deployment. The Communicable Disease Control Act and other relevant regulations have been reviewed and amended. During an epidemic, the government is authorized to designate medical care institutions to function as responding or isolation hospitals. Measures to prevent hospital infection have been implemented and accredited. Standard procedures for surveillance and reporting of communicable diseases have been formulated, and boarder quarantine protocols have been optimized. The home isolation or quarantine procedures for contacts of confirmed cases or passengers from high-risk areas have been strengthened and upgraded by smart technology. Relevant authorities are stipulated to ensure sufficient supply and prioritized allocation of critical personal protection equipment. Disseminating incorrect information about an outbreak becomes a finable offence. Among all of the measures we adopted, there is a critical element of the Taiwan Model: transparency. From the very beginning of the pandemic, the government has spared no effort in ensuring that the general public has open access to COVID-19 information. The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) has held daily press briefings since January, which generate accurate news across a broad spectrum of media outlets. CECC quickly established its authority and earned the trust of the public. This trust has had a stabilizing influence on society, encouraging citizens to follow government guidance and rules, and making the public less vulnerable to disinformation campaigns. This has created a virtuous cycle: the more public trust that exists, the more people are willing to cooperate, raising our chances of overcoming this challenge.