TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taiwan is seeking to make mRNA vaccines via contract manufacturing or licensing agreements secured from global pharmaceutical companies as the country struggles with a vaccine shortage.
Health Minister and Central Epidemic Command Center chief Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) said at a legislative interpellation session on Tuesday (June 8) that Taiwan is making much headway in mRNA vaccine production technologies and has entered discussions with vaccine makers for the right to make the doses, wrote CNA.
The mRNA vaccines work by teaching human cells to make a protein, which triggers an immune response without having those vaccinated risk severe consequences from getting sick with COVID. Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna doses are produced using this new technique.
Taiwan has two homegrown COVID-19 vaccines pending clearance, which are made by United Biomedical Inc. (聯亞生技) and Medigen Vaccine Biologics Corp. (高端疫苗). The government has inked agreements with the companies for 5 million doses each, but whether a scheduled rollout in July will happen remains unclear.
The country has received 2.11 million vaccines to date, including those procured from AstraZeneca and Moderna, distributed by COVAX, and donated by Japan. Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) said on Tuesday (June 8) that around 10 million doses will be ready by the end of August for a mass inoculation program.
About 700,000 doses had been administered in the country of 23.6 million people as of June 6, according to a COVID-19 Dashboard created by the National Center for High-Performance Computing.