There are now significantly more American deaths from Covid-19 than there were US troop fatalities during the Vietnam War. Meanwhile, Vietnam still hasn’t recorded a single death.
With so many lives at stake, it’s time the United States looked to those countries in the Asia Pacific region that have successfully controlled the pandemic to figure out how to save ourselves and the economy.
Several places in the Asia-Pacific, including Australia, China, New Zealand, South Korea, Taiwan and Vietnam, have reported suppressing the reproduction number — the average number of people who will catch the disease from a single infected person — to below 1, without the need for continued, widespread lockdowns.
They are now rapidly and successfully suppressing outbreaks of the disease by isolating those who are infected and their contacts who are likely to be infected.
It’s as if there are two worlds.
How have these countries succeeded to date?
Many have adopted nationwide public-health standards, using mobile technologies, professionalism of government, widespread use of face masks and hand sanitizers, and intensive public health services to isolate infected individuals or those likely to be infected.
Testing has played an important role, but has not been the decider it is sometimes portrayed to be in the United States.
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Editors note: Jeffrey Sachs is a professor and director of the Center for Sustainable Development at Columbia University. The opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author; view more opinion articles on CNN.