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Taiwan's Medigen could be up to 90% effective against COVID: Expert

CECC expert says efficacy of Medigen vaccine could be comparable to Novavax

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TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Based on Phase II clinical trials, a domestic COVID-19 vaccine developed by Medigen Vaccine Biologics Corp. (高端疫苗, MVC) could be up to 90% effective against the virus, which would be comparable to the Novavax COVID-19 vaccine, according to a Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) official.

Health Minister and CECC head Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) on Monday (July 19) announced that the Ministry of Health and Welfare (MOHW) has provided emergency use authorization (EUA) for a COVID-19 vaccine developed by Medigen, enabling manufacturing to begin. During a radio interview with Hit FM on Tuesday, CECC Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) convener Lee Ping-ing (李秉穎) explained the significance of the results from the Phase II trials on the Medigen jab, which is dubbed "MVC-COV1901 Vaccine."

In a Tuesday morning interview with Hit FM host Clara Chou (周玉蔻), Lee said the geometric mean titer ratio (antibody concentration) among recipients of the Medigen jab was 3.4 times higher than a control group of 200 people who received the AstraZeneca shot and far higher than the minimum requirement of 0.67. Given that AstraZeneca has an average efficacy rate of 70% against COVID-19, Lee said that Medigen's efficacy should be much higher, at about 90%, similar to efficacy for Novavax.

In addition, the seroresponse rate (potency of response) of the Medigen vaccine recipients was 95.5%, far higher than the standard requirement of 50%. Lee said this high number for Medigen "was not unexpected" given that the COVID vaccines made by BioNTech, Moderna, and Novavax also have seroresponse rates that are higher than recovered COVID patients, while AstraZeneca matches that of recovered patients.

Novavax uses nanoparticle technology and an adjuvant to stimulate an immune response. According to data from its Phase III clinical trials announced in mid-June, the overall efficacy of the vaccine is 90.4%, and no moderate or severe cases were reported in the vaccinated group, meaning that it has a vaccine efficacy of 100% against moderate and severe disease.

Novavax is also reportedly 93% effective against the different variants of the virus, with some scientists even praising it as the best COVID-19 vaccine in the world. Lee said that like Novavax, Medigen is a protein subunit vaccine, meaning that the vaccine contains purified pieces of a pathogen, and because these fragments are incapable of transmitting disease, they are considered very safe.

Lee said that neither of these protein-based vaccines are expected to produce the myocarditis seen in rare cases with mRNA vaccines or the thrombosis sporadically reported with AstraZeneca. He predicted that Medigen's vaccine will undergo post-approval studies and Phase III clinical trials abroad and will prove to have an efficacy that is similar to Novavax.