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Taiwan yet to clear COVID boosters for BA.5 due to lack of data

CECC says US grants EUA for BA.5 vaccines based on animal trial data

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FILE - This August 2022 photo provided by Pfizer shows vials of the company's updated COVID-19 vaccine during production in Kalamazoo, Mich. New boost...

FILE - This August 2022 photo provided by Pfizer shows vials of the company's updated COVID-19 vaccine during production in Kalamazoo, Mich. New boost...

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) on Wednesday (Sept. 14) explained the reasons why Taiwan has failed to secure vaccine doses against the Omicron subvariant BA.5.

According to CECC head Victor Wang (王必勝), the U.S. is the only country to have authorized the emergency use (EUA) of updated COVID-19 booster shots. These bivalent vaccines protect against both the original virus strain and the Omicron variant lineages BA.4 and BA.5.

Wang said the U.S. green-lighted the tweaked vaccines after examining limited clinical data based on animal trials, which is not a conventional approach. Currently, the CECC has received only animal data from Pfizer-BioNTech about its second-generation vaccine targeting BA.5, wrote CNA.

Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna are expected to provide data for Taiwan’s review later this month but it is unclear whether the data will meet the EUA criteria. Even if the tweaked boosters are cleared, they will not be available until at least November, he added.

Separately, the first batch of adapted Moderna bivalent vaccine targeting BA.1, about 800,000 doses, is due to arrive Friday (Sept. 16) and rolled out next week. The CECC has recommended that non-high-risk groups wait until BA.5 jabs are available, likely in November.