2021.03 The Taiwan Banker NO.135 / By Hank Huang (黃崇哲)
Vaccines will Write the Final Chapter of the PandemicEditor's Note
Following the distribution of vaccines in Western countries, lockdowns have ended, and a glimmer of hope has appeared for the end of the COVID-19 pandemic that has ravaged economies around the world. Yet without full vaccination, it will be impossible to re-open the border and preserve daily routines. Only protection from mass vaccination can prevent large-scale loss of life from natural herd immunity (antibodies through infection). In contrast to the Spanish flu of almost exactly 100 years ago, technology has become a precious life-saver in this pandemic, from testing and treatment to advanced vaccine production. Although the World Health Organization, which was supposed to lead the world’s response, it repeatedly released misleading information, causing the situation to intensify in many countries. It took unremitting efforts by other medical scientists to eventually gave us the vaccines we have today. In addition to technology, financial market operations were another factor behind the successful vaccine development. Close integration is required between biotech companies and venture capital to attract capital to support the upfront costs of development and allow biotechnology companies to develop cutting-edge and effective vaccines, meanwhile creating impressive returns on investors’ risks. Epidemiologists however warn that mutations of the virus or difficulties in global delivery could prolong the pandemic. This gives Taiwan's biotechnology industry great opportunities for growth. The dust has now settled on various scandals which have caused it trouble. If Taiwan’s biotech venture capital industry can develop properly, there may be great market development opportunities in the four major prongs of epidemic prevention: drugs, rapid screening, vaccines, and smart medical care. Following semiconductors, Taiwanese biotech could lead the world. The Spanish flu infected over 1/5 of the world and killed over 40,000. This time around, we made concerted efforts to face the epidemic through advance preparation and production capacity improvements. With the help of the government, vaccines have now been sourced, and the battle for herd immunity begins. A local vaccine has entered stage II clinical trials. Once it is put into production, Taiwan will cement its status as a global leader in pandemic response. I hope we can smoothly weather this upheaval as soon as possible and catch sight of the rainbow after the storm. I also hope that through technological strength and innovation, Taiwan can stay healthy and prosperous.