Taiwan to receive Moderna vaccine in 3-4 months: CECC

Taipei-Over 5 million doses of vaccine developed by American pharmaceutical company Moderna Inc. are expected to be delivered to Taiwan between May and June, the country's Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said Wednesday, after Moderna announced a supply agreement with the Taiwan government.

At a press briefing, Health Minister Chen Shih-chung (???), who heads the CECC, said the 5.05 million doses of vaccine will be shipped in freezers, as they must be kept at a temperature of minus 20 degrees Celsius.

The freezers of vaccines will be delivered to health bureaus or other government-designated entities in all 22 municipalities in Taiwan, which will be responsible for distributing them to local hospitals and clinics, Chen said.

The Moderna vaccine was found to be about 95 percent effective at preventing coronavirus infections, in third-phase clinical trials.

In a statement issued Tuesday, Moderna said it had entered into an agreement with the Taiwan government for the supply of 5 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine. It announced in the same statement that it will supply 10 million doses of the vaccine to Colombia.

"We thank the governments of both Taiwan and Colombia for partnering with us to bring the COVID-19 Vaccine Moderna to Taiwan and Colombia," Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel said in the statement. "Both governments have moved quickly to get this done in the face of the pandemic and we appreciate their collaboration."

Chen said Wednesday that the CECC has also signed an advanced agreement to purchase 5 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine from one of the two domestic companies whose vaccine candidates have entered phase 2 clinical trials.

He did not disclose the name of the company, but said the CECC is also looking to sign a similar agreement with the other domestic developer.

The two local vaccine developers that have received Food and Drug Administration approval to begin a phase 2 clinical trials are Medigen Vaccine Biologics Corp. and United Biomedical Inc.

The CECC said Tuesday it will prioritize the vaccination of roughly 990,000 health care workers and epidemic prevention personnel, in the first-phase rollout of the COVID-19 vaccines.

In the second phase, people 65 years old and over will be inoculated, once Taiwan obtains 2-10 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines, it said.

When Taiwan secures more than 10 million doses in the next phase, people aged 19-64 who are at high risk of severe disease, those with rare diseases or major illness and injuries, and adults aged 50-64 will be eligible to get the jab, the CECC said.

In addition to the Moderna vaccine, Taiwan had also been allocated over 200,000 doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, via the World Health Organization's COVAX platform, as of Monday.

To date, Taiwan has ordered some 20 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine -- 5.05 million from Moderna, 4.76 million doses through COVAX, and 10 million doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel