Vaccinations against COVID-19 would hopefully be available in Taiwan by the middle of next year, and NT$11.55 billion (US$400.83 million) has been allocated for purchasing vaccines, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said yesterday as it reported two new imported cases of the virus.
Asked at a news conference whether the government has a good chance of purchasing Moderna Inc’s candidate, Centers for Disease Control Deputy Director-General Chuang Jen-hsiang (莊人祥), the CECC spokesman, said that promising candidates are still in phase 3 clinical trials, so it is impossible for the government to “put all its bets on one single candidate.”
Moderna on Monday said that its mRNA-1273 has proven 94.5 percent effective in its preliminary clinical trial, while last week US drugmaker Pfizer and Germany’s BioNTech announced that their candidate — BNT162b2 — has proven to be more than 90 percent effective.
Chuang said the government would try to obtain vaccines through the COVAX coalition’s allocation mechanism, by supporting the domestic development of vaccines and by negotiating contracts with specific drugmakers
The BNT162b2 vaccine candidate is not on the COVAX’s list of vaccines, but it could be on the next list, Chuang said.
The CECC got in touch with Moderna a couple of months ago, and its candidate would be easier to deliver and store than the mRNA-1273, he said.
The government would continue to push to obtain promising vaccines as early as possible, and the NT$11.55 billion budget — covering 1.5 million doses priced at NT$700 per dose plus a 10 percent administration fee — has been allocated, Chuang said.
“Hopefully people in Taiwan could get vaccinated by the middle of next year,” he added.
The CECC said the latest cases of imported COVID-19 are two Taiwanese returning from Myanmar and Indonesia.
Case No. 605 is a man in his 30s who traveled to Myanmar for work in March, and sought treatment on Sept. 6 for sleepiness, fever, and loss of smell and taste, and was diagnosed with COVID-19, Chuang said.
The man reported his medical history, as well his meeting in Myanmar with two confirmed cases — case No. 501 and No. 505 — to airport quarantine officers when he arrived in Taiwan on Nov. 8, Chuang said.
He was tested and sent to a centralized quarantine facility. After his airport test came back negative, he moved to a quarantine hotel, but a cough and itchy throat he developed worsened on Friday last week, so he was tested again, and yesterday that test came back positive, Chuang said.
Case No. 606 is a man in his 50s who went to Indonesia in September, developed a cough, difficulty breathing, a fever, diarrhea and sore muscles, and lost his sense of taste on Oct. 9, but did not seek treatment before returning home on Sunday, Chuang said.
The antibody test taken three days before leaving Indonesia was negative, Chuang added.
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