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Taiwan could roll out homegrown COVID vaccines in July

Two local manufacturers in second stage of clinical trials

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People wear face masks to help curb the spread of the coronavirus as they pray at a temple for the Lunar New Year in Taipei, Feb.12

People wear face masks to help curb the spread of the coronavirus as they pray at a temple for the Lunar New Year in Taipei, Feb.12 (AP photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Homegrown vaccines could be ready for nationwide inoculation against the coronavirus, said Taiwan’s COVID-19 task force on Friday (Feb. 26).

Local vaccine manufacturers Medigen Vaccine Biologics Corp. and United Biomedical have both entered the second phase of clinical trials, said Health Minister and head of the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) at an interpellation session, wrote CNA.

The former is expected to complete the second dose in its trials by the end of April and submit an efficacy report in June. That would pave the way for the roll-out of indigenously developed COVID vaccines as early as July, according to Chen.

The minister reiterated there s no plan to purchase Chinese vaccines out of safety and legitimacy concerns. The lack of science-backed data, legality issues, and low public confidence have proven obstacles for the introduction of China-made coronavirus vaccines.

Taiwanese medical workers have blasted calls to allow Chinese vaccines as putting politics before people’s health, reported Newtalk. China’s Sinopharm jabs may cause over 70 adverse reactions, and various kinds of foul play have been reported in the country’s vaccine industry, including producing COVID vaccines with saline solution and mineral water.

Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) announced earlier this month that Taiwan has secured 20 million vaccine doses, including 10 million from AstraZeneca and 5.05 million from Moderna. The CECC said this week Taiwan aims to procure a total of 30 to 45 million doses, from both overseas sources and local suppliers.