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Taiwan-made vaccine to be included in rollout, vaccine-mixing approved

ROC Central News Agency

07/25/2021 06:13 PM

Taipei, July 25 (CNA) Taiwan's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) approved Sunday the inclusion of a locally developed COVID-19 vaccine in the country's rollout, as well as for people who receive the first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine to get a mRNA vaccine for their second dose.

The ACIP approval means that people in Taiwan will be able to receive the COVID-19 vaccine developed by Medigen Vaccine Biologics Corp., which received emergency use authorization (EUA) from Taiwan's Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on July 19.

Speaking at the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) press briefing, Health and Welfare Minister Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) said most experts in the ACIP think the Medigen vaccine should be given first to people who are allergic to ingredients in the AstraZeneca and Moderna vaccine.

The two vaccines are the only brands that Taiwan has taken delivery of so far.

Chen said the CECC will need to discuss with Medigen its supply plan, but declined to provide a timeline as to when the vaccine would become available.

Also on Sunday, Chen announced that the ACIP has concluded that people who receive a first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine can get an mRNA vaccine as their second dose, after reviewing studies on the effectiveness of the approach.

The ACIP recommends that vaccine-mixing be allowed first for people in the top three categories of the vaccine priority list -- namely, medical workers, government epidemic prevention workers, and people with a higher risk of COVID-19 exposure due to their jobs -- Chen said.

The CECC will need some time to figure out how vaccine mixing affects the country's current supply and how it can be incorporated into the nationwide vaccination appointment system, Chen said.

Vaccine mixing will not immediately be an option available to the public, he said.

Currently, people can only change vaccine brands for their second dose if they suffered a severe allergic reaction to the first dose.

Taiwan's government has signed contracts to purchase about 20 million vaccine doses from abroad, including 5.05 million doses of Moderna, 10 million doses of AstraZeneca, and 4.76 million of unspecified brands through the COVAX program.

It has also signed contracts to buy 10 million doses of vaccines from two Taiwanese manufacturers. One is Medigen, and the other is United Biomedical Inc. Asia, which has not yet received an EUA from the Taiwan FDA.

To date, Taiwan has received around 8.9 million doses, including 3.65 million doses of the Moderna vaccine -- 1.15 million bought from the manufacturer and 2.5 million donated by the United States -- and 5.25 million doses of AstraZeneca -- nearly 3.34 million donated by Japan and the rest purchased from the manufacturer or through COVAX.

Around 6.1 million people in Taiwan have received their first COVID-19 shot, which translates to 26 percent of the population, while 229,467, or 0.9 percent, have been fully vaccinated.

(By Chen Chieh-ling, Chang Ming-hsuan and Chiang Yi-ching)

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