With thoughtful leadership, these pandemic heroes have helped Asia get through the humanitarian crisis

“Covid-19 demonstrated how quickly an infectious disease can sweep across the world, push health systems to the brink and upend daily life for all of humanity,” said António Guterres, secretary general of the United Nations, in his speech during the 2021 International Day of Epidemic Preparedness. The annual international day of observation, celebrated on December 27, is a global reminder to develop robust epidemic management systems that cover health, basic services, information and more. Most of all, it is a call to build solidarity, as Gutteres further said, to “stop infectious diseases in their tracks”.

In the region, leaders from Asia’s Most Influential 2022 have helped curb the Covid-19 pandemic and resolve its impact on daily life through responsible public governance, innovative tech solutions and, of course, scientific research. To better manage future outbreaks, it is important to expand and learn from what they have achieved in the past years. 

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Leo Yee Sin, Singapore

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Leo Yee Sin
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Professor Leo Yee Sin is the executive director of the National Centre for Infectious Diseases (NCID), the state-of-the-art health facility dedicated to the prevention and management of outbreaks and the protection of Singaporeans from infectious diseases. The professor, who conducts research on emerging infections and has published numerous scientific papers, has a wealth of experience in managing outbreaks, including SARS, influenza, Zika, monkeypox and the recent Covid-19 outbreak. In a Lunch by Sumiko podcast episode, she advised people to help slow the mutation of Covid-19 (something she said will be here to stay) by continuing good prevention habits learned during the pandemic such as the wearing of masks during at-risk situations. 

Read Leo Yee Sin’s full profile on Asia’s Most Influential



Vico Sotto, Philippines

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Vico Sotto
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Mayor Vico Sotto is lauded for his management of the Covid-19 pandemic in Pasig City, with the World Health Organisation hailing the young politician's vaccination program as a success story. During the pandemic, Sotto bolstered vaccination in the city, prioritising senior citizens who were most at risk. Public spaces were sanitised, contact tracing was implemented and the bed capacity of the Pasig City General Hospital’s (PCGH) Covid-19 centre was increased, too. In November 2022, the mayor shared the city’s PHP15-billion budget for 2023 via a 30-minute presentation on his YouTube channel. Notably, Sotto earmarked 28 per cent of the budget (PHP4.2 billion) to shore up the healthcare services of the City Health Department, PCGH and the Pasig City Children’s Hospital, all of which will also improve the pandemic responsiveness of the city.

Read Vico Sotto’s full profile on Asia’s Most Influential

Yong Xiang Lin, Taiwan

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Yong Xiang Lin
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Yong Xiang Lin’s TCI Co, Ltd is a nutraceutical company specialising in dietary supplements, functional drinks and facial masks. However, during the Covid-19 pandemic, the firm placed focus on improving the speed and accuracy of Covid-19 testing. It established TCI Gene to develop nucleic acid tests, as well as created QVS-96, the world’s first completely automated virus scanner. In 2021, TCI was hailed by The Financial Times as one of Asia-Pacific’s fastest-growing companies with a growth rate of 207.6 per cent. It was ranked first in the supplement category and seventh in health in the region. 

Read Yong Xiang Lin’s full profile on Asia’s Most Influential



Reza Razali, Malaysia

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Reza Razali
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As pandemics limit movement and disrupt employment, access to aid is important. That’s what Reza Razali, founder of technology firm Terto Tech, sought to solve when, in 2021, he and his team set up KitaJaga, the community app that powers peer-to-peer assistance. Via the app, users pin a white flag on their location so other users in the local community can directly provide help, whether in the form of food, basic supplies or funds. The latest version of KitaJaga now features chat, integration with Twitter and an Organisation Helper to better manage donations. 

Read Reza Razali’s full profile on Asia’s Most Influential

Chuang Shuk Kwan, Hong Kong

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Chuang Shuk Kwan
Above Chuang Shuk Kwan (Photo: Getty Images)

For more than two years, from January 2020 to September 2022, Dr Chuang Shuk Kwan, head of the communicable disease branch of the Centre for Health Protection, updated Hongkongers on the latest Covid-19 developments in daily press conferences. She is widely admired for her patience and composure when speaking to the public and answering questions from the media. In her final daily briefing, the doctor noted how prevention measures such as the wearing of masks and washing of hands have “successfully reduced the number of cases for other upper-respiratory diseases, including the flu”. She also thanked the public and wished everyone “good health and happy lives”. 

Read Chuang Shuk Kwan’s full profile on Asia’s Most Influential


Tatler Asia's Most Influential is the definitive list of people shaping our world today. Asia's Most Influential brings together the region's most innovative changemakers, industry titans and thought leaders who are driving positive impact in Asia and beyond. View the full list here.


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