TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Taiwan will introduce an indigenously developed vaccine against enterovirus next year, according to the Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST).
The vaccine is expected to be 90 percent effective against enterovirus 71 (EV71) infections, said Huang Li-min (黃立民), a professor in the Department of Pediatrics at National Taiwan University Hospital. However, the island still needs to make efforts to produce a vaccine to counter EV68, another strain that poses a threat to public health, he added.
Currently, the only EV71 vaccine available is produced by China and first hit the market in 2016, reported the Liberty Times. The fact that enterovirus infections occur mostly in Asia has discouraged international pharmaceuticals from investing in the development of vaccines against the virus.
Professor Huang called for a blanket immunization campaign to begin when the Taiwan-developed vaccine becomes available next year. A series of three shots is recommended for infants at 2 months, 4 months, and 1-year old in order to ensure complete immunity against EV71 for five years. Children are less vulnerable to EV71 from the age of five.
Taiwan is also providing assistance in enterovirus prevention for Vietnam, Malaysia, Thailand, and Singapore, which have reported cases of EV71 infections, wrote the Liberty Times.
Symptoms of enteroviruses include a cough, runny nose, skin rash, fever, sneezing, mouth blisters, and muscle aches, according to U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Washing hands frequently with soap is considered one of the most effective ways of preventing infection by the virus.