The Napoleonic wars led to battles lasting many hours and French military surgeon Dominique Jean Larrey responded to these new challenges by introducing a triage system, which functioned as the first ambulance system to retrieve wounded soldiers during battle.
During the Crimean War, which was the first heavily industrialized conflict, British army surgeons institutionalized the first systemic usage of anesthesia during surgery. This not only improved recovery rates for common operations, but also made previously near-fatal amputations feasible.
In the Spanish Civil War, in response to unprecedented levels of carnage unleashed by the first aerial bombardment campaign against civilians, Dr. Josep Trueta Raspall created numerous innovative practices regarding the immediate care for serious wounds. This system of prompt surgeries, wound sanitation and sterilization, and plaster casting immensely decreased post-surgical infections, leading to far higher recovery rates.
Similarly, the fight against COVID-19 has been a powerful force for innovation. These innovations have not only occurred in direct interventions but also in prevention, detection, diagnosis and treatments, such as vaccine development.
For example, companies like Huawei have been at the forefront of developing, piloting, and scaling up a range of COVID-19 applications. At airports, train stations, and other high traffic areas, the use of AI and 5G has enabled over 200 people per minute to have their temperatures scanned while walking at a normal pace. According to Yang Xiaohong, vice president at the Guangdong Provincial People's Hospital, this not only improves efficiency but significantly reduces the risks of cross infection.
Recent AI applications also improve the throughput and accuracy of diagnosing COVID-19 by supporting radiologist review of CT scans. Meanwhile, other AI applications have shortened the time to develop effective treatments by increasing the number of potential drugs that can be screened.
Furthermore, the combination of AI and 5G have made telemedicine a reality in diagnosing and treating COVID-19. For example, doctors have treated critically ill patients through 5G-powered robotics and also provided real-time consultations to front-line physicians through high definition video. These solutions would not be possible without the high bandwidth and low latency of 5G.
But the war against COVID-19 is a multi-front war. Winning the war requires defeating the virus but this is not enough. The fight on the economic front is just as important.
In recognizing the breadth of the challenge, in a speech on February 23, President Xi noted, "To successfully fight and win the people's war, general war and resistance war for epidemic prevention and control, we must strengthen the CPC's leadership in promoting epidemic prevention and control and economic and social development in a coordinated manner.”
Under the clear-eyed, decisive and unified leadership of the CPC, China has not only won important victories on the public health front but also minimized casualties on the economic front while pursuing prudent monetary and fiscal policies and maintained a stable society for its 1.4 billion citizens.
At the same time, through the efforts of Chinese technology institutions like Huawei, Alibaba, Tsinghua University and others, China has achieved breakthroughs spurred by the fight against COVID-19 and shared those achievements with countries around the world.
World War I transformed the geopolitical landscape. Today, the war against COVID-19 is reshaping our world, but because of technology, perhaps at an even faster rate.
To thrive in this new world, leaders must articulate a compelling vision that speaks to the entire community of mankind and offers a path to a safe and prosperous shared future. But this vision must be backed by a system of governance able to turn that vision into reality. In both word and deed, China has shown that it possesses both.