「What Did We Learn from COVID?」

Time: April 17 (Mon.)
Location: Room 117, NTU-CPH
On April 17th, 2023, the College of Public Health at NTU invited Professor Ezekiel Emanuel, from the University of Pennsylvania, to give a presentation entitled "What Did We Learn from COVID?" The seminar was hosted by Professor Hsien-Ho Lin from the Institute of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine. Dr. Mei-Hsiang Ho, an adjunct research fellow at the Institute of Biomedical Sciences at Academia Sinica, and Mr. Yi-Chun Lo, the Deputy Director from the Taiwan Centers for Disease Control, were invited to be panel discussants.
At the University of Pennsylvania, Professor Ezekiel Emanuel is the Vice Provost for Global Initiatives, the Diane v.S. Levy and Robert M. Levy University Professor, and the Penn Integrates Knowledge (PIK) Professor, as well as a member of the United States’ COVID-19 Advisory Board. He has published numerous books, including one in 2020 entitled, "Which Country Has the World’s Best Health Care?"
During the seminar, Professor Ezekiel Emanuel shared 13 lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States:
(1) Humans can voluntarily endure substantial restrictions in daily life and social interactions for a maximum of 24-30 months, which the government should take into consideration during the policymaking process.
(2) Provision of information alone cannot change public behavior. Social norms, habits, or environmental incentives are also needed.
(3) The level of trust between the public and the government affects whether the public is willing to comply with government regulations.
(4) Effective preparation is key, and should include the establishment of disease monitoring systems, as well as real-time and transparent data reporting and a flexible supply of resources. This infrastructure must be in place in advance of any future pandemics.
(5) Real-time data on all facets of the pandemic (e.g. virus mutations, vaccine efficacy, hospitalization rates, etc.) is critical for making public health decisions.
(6) Respiratory viruses such as COVID-19 are mainly transmitted through aerosols rather than droplets, so the government should focus on improving indoor air quality.
(7) The government must be transparent about the anticipated impact of a vaccine, since getting vaccinated does not necessarily mean one cannot be infected, but may instead reduce serious disease, hospitalization or death from respiratory viruses.
(8) Epidemic prevention policies should be tailored to a specific location’s situation, according to viral prevalence, vaccination rates, and other pandemic circumstances.
(9) Schools should be kept open as much as possible so that educational disruptions can be minimized. While in school, epidemic risks can be reduced through vaccination, improved classroom air quality, increased proportion of outdoor activity courses, and mask wearing;
(10) Social isolation should be mitigated by keeping public activity spaces such as parks and community playgrounds open.
(11) Four methods to reduce the risk of death include vaccinating vulnerable groups (such as nursing home residents) and frontline epidemic prevention personnel, improving indoor air quality, wearing N95 or KN95 masks, and guaranteeing sick leave for workers, so they are able to rest at home when sick.
(12) Attention should be paid to the increasing risk tolerance of the public towards COVID-19, since when the public is willing to engage in more risky behavior, vulnerable groups may also be exposed to higher risks.
(13) Vaccines should be fairly distributed globally, and the health needs-based standard can be used to quantitatively examine whether their distribution is truly fair. The health needs-based standard dictates that vaccines should go to the countries with the most excess deaths in order to save the most lives.
The presentation in progress
Professor Ezekiel Emanuel
Q & A session
(From Left to Right: Professor Shou-Hsia Cheng, the Dean of NTUCPH, Dr. Mei-Hsiang Ho, the adjunct research fellow at the Institute of Biomedical Sciences of Academia Sinica, Mr. Yi-Chun Lo, the Deputy Director of Taiwan’s CDC, Professor Ezekiel Emanuel, Professor Hsien-Ho Lin, the Associate Dean of NTUCPH, and Mr. Brady Chen, the CEO of 厚生基金會)