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5 Southeast Asian countries to consider procuring Taiwan’s COVID vaccines: Report

Philippines mulls recognizing Taiwan's emergency use authorization standards, but its official denies the rumor later that day

Nurse prepares to administer shot. (Unsplash photo)

Nurse prepares to administer shot. (Unsplash photo)

Update: 2021/6/15 22:30
1st Publication: 2021/6/15 18:25

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — At least five Southeast Asian countries are reaching out to Taiwanese vaccine makers about potential collaborations, according to reports.

While the Philippines is mulling recognizing Taiwan's emergency use authorization (EUA) standards to clear the way for Taiwan-developed vaccines, sources familiar with the matter told Mirror Media that the Philippines, Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand are contacting Taiwanese vaccine makers Medigen Vaccine Biologics Corp. (MVC) and United Biomedical about possible collaborations.

Media reported that these countries have recently expressed the hope that MVC would carry out clinical trials in their territory and supply doses for their populations. Vietnam and Indonesia are said to prefer "immuno-bridging" by enrolling hundreds to thousands of local volunteers in clinical trials to demonstrate equivalent immunogenicity between Taiwanese and their own peoples.

A memorandum of understanding (MOU) between MVC and Vietnam's National Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology (NIHE) has been inked to secure a partnership, according to the report.

People familiar with the matter said mounting interest in these countries in the Taiwanese vaccines is related to the difficulty procuring adequate doses from marquee brands; cold chain storage challenges related to mRNA vaccines such as Pfizer/BioNTech's (-80°C) and Moderna's (-20°C); and assumptions that the Taiwanese jabs could be more suitable for Southeast Asian people.

MVC's COVID-19 vaccine can be kept in temperatures of between 2 and 8 degrees Celsius, without requiring ultra-cold storage.

The Philippine health authorities reportedly have expressed an interest in recognizing Taiwan's EUA standards in a move believed to pave the way for accepting the nation’s vaccines. However, Philippine Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque denied when asked to confirm the report later the day, and the Philippine vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. also said that he is "not aware of" the procurement plan.

MVC announced on June 10 that it has completed the phase two clinical trials for its vaccine candidate and that the results meet the safety and efficacy standards set by Taiwan’s Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for an EUA.

In a separate story by Mirror Media, Paraguay's FCM (Facultad de Ciencias Medicas de la UNA) and MVC signed an MOU to jointly conduct phase three clinical trials and related research for the MVC vaccine. The details of the collaboration will be ironed out in a separate agreement.

Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirmed the rumor that clinical trials for a Taiwanese vaccine are underway in its ally Paraguay.

MOFA Spokesperson Joanne Ou (歐江安) on Tuesday (May 15) said clinical trials have begun in Paraguay. "We would love to share our home-grown vaccines with our allies to combat the pandemic after the emergency use of MVC’s COVID-19 vaccine is greenlit against the backdrop of an adequate as well as stable supply," she added.

Updated : 2021-07-29 18:19 GMT+08:00