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265,000 doses of AstraZeneca vaccine arrive in Taiwan; BNT registration to begin Saturday

ROC Central News Agency

08/27/2021 04:43 PM

Taipei, Aug. 27 (CNA) Taiwan took delivery of another shipment of AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine from South Korea on Friday, part of the AZ vaccine doses ordered from abroad.

The Korean Air KE691 flight carrying the shipment of 265,000 vaccine doses landed at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport at 11:37 a.m., after a three-hour flight from Seoul.

The cargo was then unloaded and transported to a cold storage logistics center at the airport for inspection.

The latest delivery is part of a 10 million dose order Taiwan gave to the British-Swedish pharmaceutical company on Oct. 30, 2020. To date, 2.674 million doses of that order have been delivered.

Taiwan has also received 3.34 million AstraZeneca (AZ) shots donated by Japan and 20,000 doses donated by Lithuania, as well as 609,600 AZ doses from the COVAX global vaccine sharing program, from which Taiwan ordered 4.76 million doses of any approved COVID-19 vaccine.

The new vaccines received Friday will not expire until Dec. 7, 2021, according to a statement released by the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC).

Health Minister Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) said the latest batch of AstraZeneca vaccine shots will go mostly to people who have yet to get their first vaccine shot, but some will be reserved for those waiting to get their second AZ shot, without providing any specifics.

People will also be able to sign up for a shot of the Pfizer-BioNTech (BNT) vaccine on the government-run registration platform starting at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Chen said.

Earlier Friday, the minister confirmed that a batch of 1.95 million BNT shots will be shipped to Taiwan as early as the end of August.

"Students will be given priority to get the jab," Chen said, noting that other groups will also be allowed to register and indicate their willingness to receive a BNT jab, and the shots will be administered based on the vaccination order set by the CECC.

The CECC will give top priority to students aged 12-18 during the BNT vaccine rollout because it is the only brand approved in Taiwan for use by that age group.

Eligible students are likely to receive their vaccine jabs at school, and older students will be vaccinated earlier than younger ones, according to Chen.

The expected BNT shots are the first delivery of 15 million BNT doses being purchased and donated by three private units -- Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacture Co. (TSMC), Hon Hai Precision Co.'s YongLin Charity and Education Foundation, and the Tzu Chi Foundation.

To date, Taiwan has obtained more than 11 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines, including 6.64 million doses of the AZ vaccine and 4 million doses of the Moderna vaccine from abroad, as well as 860,000 doses of the locally developed Medigen vaccine.

According to Chen, the CECC's goal is to have 70 percent of Taiwan's 23.5 million population get at least one vaccine dose by the end of the year, which would translate to 16.4 million people.

To date, 41.51 percent of Taiwan's population has received a first jab, with only 3.58 percent fully vaccinated.

(By Chiang Hui-chun, Chen Chieh-ling, Chang Min-hsuan and Elizabeth Hsu)

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