Taiwan is hopeful of purchasing a COVID-19 vaccine being developed by Pfizer Inc and BioNTech SE as early as the first quarter of next year through a global vaccine alliance, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said yesterday.
The US pharmaceutical giant and its German partner on Monday announced that their vaccine candidate — BNT162b2 — was more than 90 percent effective in preventing the disease.
Asked if Taiwan would be able to get hold of the vaccine, Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, said: “We are hopeful of obtaining it, as it is on our list... but the efficacy of the vaccine would be discussed further after a final report on the study comes out.”
At a news conference in the afternoon, Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Deputy Director-General Chuang Jen-hsiang (莊人祥), who is the CECC’s spokesman, said that BNT162b2 might become the first vaccine to receive emergency use authorization in many countries.
“However, there are several other vaccine candidates that are in clinical trial phases, and the efficacy and safety data of BNT162b2 will be finalized after its phase 3 study is completed,” he said.
Taiwan has joined the COVID-19 global vaccine alliance COVAX, which allows members that signed an optional purchase agreement to choose from a range of vaccines, he said, adding that the alliance is likely to include BNT162b2.
“There is hope for Taiwan to procure BNT162b2 through COVAX,” he said.
Taiwan is most likely to obtain it as early as the first quarter of next year, but it is a little too early to draw a conclusion, as the efficacy and safety of the vaccine candidate is unclear, which would affect how soon it would hit the market, he said.
In related news, Taiwan yesterday reported two imported cases of COVID-19 — two Indonesian women in their 30s, who arrived on Oct. 26 and Oct. 27 for work.
Neither has shown symptoms of the disease since arriving in Taiwan, but they were tested when they ended their quarantines on Sunday and Monday.
The results came back positive yesterday.
Asked if the CECC would consider changing quarantine policies for travelers from Indonesia, following a series of confirmed cases, Chuang said that about 80 percent of Indonesian travelers are migrant workers.
All migrant workers are required to stay at centralized quarantine facilities and are tested upon ending quarantine, he said.
So far, about 77 percent of Indonesian migrant workers have been asked by their employers to provide a negative test result for COVID-19 before coming to Taiwan, so whether the policy would be changed needs further discussion, Chuang added.
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