With 7 confirmed deaths to date in a population of 23.7M, Taiwan has led the world in their response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Taiwan Centers for Disease Control has been preparing for an outbreak like this for years — and that preparation included a subscription to BlueDot Insights, our cloud platform for assessing infectious disease risk. Here’s how Dr. Hao-Yuan Cheng of the Epidemic Intelligence Center at the Taiwan Centers for Disease Control in Taipei describes their use of BlueDot:
A Need Identified
“We started using BlueDot in September 2019. We already had an internal team collecting epidemic news and information worldwide, and we found the Insights platform very interesting. It provided automatic news collection and modelling, and beyond that, it offered the risk evaluation for imported disease. That’s why we started to integrate BlueDot Insights into our daily work.”
Because the BlueDot Insights platform uses an automated system to collect news worldwide, it’s very easy to gain a global view.
Our small team cannot manually collect all the news and information from more than 100 countries around the world. BlueDot collects this information on a daily basis, so if we have a specific interest in a specific country, it’s very useful for us.
A Quantitative Case for Action
“Taiwan CDC detected the undiagnosed pneumonia in Wuhan on December 31, 2019. We began our response immediately. We later learned that BlueDot shared the news on the same day. In mid-January, BlueDot provided us with a table and a report showing the probable spread from Wuhan city to specific cities. It identified Bangkok as having the highest risk of importing cases. This was really useful for us, because previously we didn’t have any detail about travel from Wuhan to Taiwan. This quantitative information helped us persuade our officers of the need for immediate action. They would always ask, how high is the risk? This quantitative information — to know that Taiwan was the fifth or sixth – highest risk of importing cases — helped us make the case. The first cases outside of China were in Bangkok, just as BlueDot predicted.
The tools BlueDot provided made the risk more visible. So it really persuaded us that Taiwan could be next. It made us more vigilant and better prepared for the importation of COVID-19.”
Making the World’s Best Even Better
“The highest COVID risk to Taiwan comes from imported cases. When we needed to make our border controls more strict, we used risk assessments informed by BlueDot to do this.
“Because BlueDot’s predictions were accurate in Thailand and Japan, we took several steps to control our borders and reduce travel between Wuhan and Taiwan. In our airports, we implemented on-board inspections and fever screening. We became more vigilant about imported health risks.”
“And because the countries with higher risk had already reported cases, it led us to reconsider the sensitivity of our surveillance system. We kept enhancing the sensitivity of our surveillance system for COVID-19 cases to improve our ability to spot cases.”
A Global View of the Pandemic
“It’s really helpful for us to quickly review the state of the pandemic around the world. We are more familiar with the news in our region, and we can collect and evaluate that ourselves. However, this is a very big world. We cannot manually inspect and evaluate all of the information out there. The global updates provided by Insights are very useful to supplement our evaluation of what’s happening around the world.”
Ready for What’s Next
“Of course, we remain focussed on COVID-19 response. But Insights still provides us the possible risk of other disease outbreaks. Many people in Taiwan may have forgotten the risk of Dengue fever, but the Insights platform will remember.”
“When there is increased risk of importation or a major outbreak in a nearby country, we will be notified.”
“We would be happy to see more and more countries use a product like BlueDot Insights. The global early warning system and a risk assessment framework provided by BlueDot is a very new area to collaborate on. Integrating our domain knowledge with the data provided by BlueDot’s systems will only improve our strategies for dealing with outbreaks.”