People in Taiwan may be able to receive a COVID-19 vaccine by the second quarter of 2021, slightly earlier than previously anticipated, Health and Welfare Minister Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) said Thursday.
Based on current evaluations, the first doses of the vaccine could be available between March and June, Chen told lawmakers during a legislative hearing in Taipei.
However, the administration of the second doses would not be completed until after June due to the tight timeframe, said Chen, who also heads the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC).
His response Thursday came after he said last week Taiwan has secured access to around 15 million vaccine doses and the government is in talks with other manufacturers to purchase additional vaccines.
According to the health minister, Taiwan has already signed an agreement to purchase 10 million doses of a COVID-19 vaccine from an international supplier, which will add to the nearly 5 million doses it has guaranteed through the COVAX allocation program.
To date, three vaccines that have been confirmed as part of the COVAX portfolio all require a two-dose regimen.
During the hearing, Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Kao Chia-yu (高嘉瑜) also asked if there was a timeframe for Taiwan to begin opening its doors to vaccinated foreign visitors, now that countries like the United States expects to begin its COVID-19 vaccinations by the end of the year.
Chen responded that it was still too early to determine a timetable as such a policy requires a scientific approach and there is currently insufficient scientific evidence to be used as a basis for ending home quarantine.