TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taiwan has purchased 20 million doses of coronavirus vaccines, including 10 million from AstraZeneca, while it is still developing three of its own versions.
On Wednesday (Dec. 30), Health Minister and Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) head Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) said that the center has negotiated the purchase of 20 million doses of vaccines, including 4.76 million doses through the COVAX global initiative and 10 million doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine. The center is taking a three-pronged approach to meeting the country's vaccination needs, including investment in international initiatives, purchasing directly from manufacturers, and domestic production.
Chen estimates that the center will begin inoculating Taiwanese residents with these vaccines by March of 2021. In addition, discussions with several other foreign vaccine makers who have entered Phase III trials are ongoing.
According to the CECC, the status of Taiwan's three domestic vaccine candidates are as follows:
- Adimmune Corporation (國光生技)
Based on the results of Phase I clinical trials, the optimal dose cannot be determined. The CECC recommends it repeat its clinical trials on dosages.
- Medigen Vaccine Biologics (高端疫苗)
It has been conditionally approved to enter Phase II trials.
- United Biomedical (聯亞生技)
The results of Phase I trials are expected to be available in January and assessment of the vaccine will continue.
The CECC explained that due to the severity of the pandemic abroad, some countries have begun to administer emergency-authorized COVID-19 vaccines. However, there are still many uncertainties involved with mass inoculations of the experimental vaccines in the community.
The center stated that it will continue to collect information on the status of the vaccinations in foreign communities to better understand the safety and effectiveness of vaccines, and at the same time develop operational guidelines and deployment plans. As for the proposed vaccine passport, experts will also be invited to cooperate with the research and development of common criteria to meet the needs of international standard practices.
In order for the vaccine to achieve the benefits of herd immunity, the CECC plans to purchase enough doses to innoculate approximately 65 percent of Taiwan's population of over 23 million people. Based on an estimated two doses per person, the center projects that 30 million doses will be needed to reach this level of herd immunity.