The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday confirmed that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued emergency use authorization for the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine from three factories, adding that it could be administered in about seven days after arrival in Taiwan.
FDA Director-General Wu Shou-mei (吳秀梅) said the agency approved the vaccine yesterday morning.
The vaccines could be administered as soon as seven days after they arrive in Taiwan, if all the required information is provided, but it could take up to 40 days if the factories provide incomplete documentation, she said.
Photo courtesy of the Chiayi County Government via CNA
At the CECC’s news conference in the afternoon, Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, said that the vaccines must pass through three “checkpoints” before they can be administered to the public.
First, the vaccine must be determined to be effective, which it has since it received FDA approval, he said.
Second, vaccine manufacturing facilities must meet the required standards, he said.
Centers for Disease Control Deputy Director-General Chuang Jen-hsiang (莊人祥), who is the CECC’s spokesman, said that AstraZeneca vaccine factories in Germany, South Korea and Italy have been approved to export vaccines to Taiwan.
Third, the quantity and quality of the imported vaccines would be reviewed to ensure they are correct, Chen said.
“After the vaccines arrive, we will review the documents that the factories provide, but if they do not provide all the required documents for review, we will have to conduct examinations, which will take longer,” he said.
Asked to comment on reports in France and Sweden of health workers experiencing adverse effects possibly linked to the AstraZeneca jab, Chen said that the CECC is closely monitoring such reports and how health authorities respond to them.
However, there have been more doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine administered in the UK, and so far reports of adverse effects following vaccination have been limited, he said.
Taiwan would continue to follow the WHO expert group’s recommendation for the use of the vaccine — approved for all people 18 and older and also in settings where new variants of the virus are circulating — while monitoring the latest developments, he said.
Although reports of adverse events related to vaccines in other countries might cause public concern, Taiwan does not force the public to be vaccinated, and the center’s specialists would make the best recommendations according to scientific evidence, Chen said.
Meanwhile, the CECC yesterday reported one new imported case of COVID-19, a Filipino in his 20s who arrived in Taiwan on Feb. 3.
He stayed in a hotel with no symptoms, and tested positive in a paid test at a hospital on Thursday after ending quarantine, Chen said.
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