Academia Sinica academician Chen Pei-jer (陳培哲), who on Monday resigned from the vaccine review committee, has been accused of working as an adviser for a Shanghai-based Chinese pharmaceutical company.
Chen was allegedly listed as a “scientific adviser” on the Web site of Zhimeng Biopharma Inc (上海摯盟醫藥科技公司) in Shanghai, China, while he served as a committee member, sources said yesterday.
If the claims are true, it could mean Chen had contravened the law restricting government officials and employees from undertaking concurrent jobs in China and other countries.
Photo courtesy of Chen Pei-jer
Chen is also a professor at state-funded National Taiwan University (NTU) and a medical researcher at NTU Hospital.
Chen yesterday said he was not in a paid position at the Chinese firm.
He showed a letter from Zhimeng Biopharma stating that Chen’s scientific adviser role is an honorary title without any responsibility, obligation or payment, and “purely scientific advancement.”
However, critics said Chen and the company were trying to cover up their ties.
When resigning from the committee, Chen accused President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) of pressuring the body to expedite the approval of the MVC-COV1901 vaccine being developed by Medigen Vaccine Biologics.
Citing his reasons for resigning his post, Chen said he believed the committee would have trouble staying neutral when reviewing domestic vaccine candidates.
The main problem was Tsai, as she said a locally developed COVID-19 vaccine is expected to be available late next month, Chen said, insinuating that the Food and Drug Administration could not resist pressure from the president and would expedite the vaccine’s approval.
New Taipei City Councilor Ho Po-wen (何博文) of the Democratic Progressive Party yesterday accused Chen of working to benefit China by sabotaging Taiwan’s vaccine development efforts.
Ho presented documents allegedly showing that Chen had close ties with universities and biotechnology companies in China, including Xiamen University.
Ho also said that Chen timed his resignation and public accusations just before the completion of phase 2 clinical trials of the vaccine, with Medigen scheduled to announce results of human trials soon.
“Chen is undermining Taiwan’s own COVID-19 vaccine to prevent it from reaching production. In his position as a committee member and a medical expert, he is saying Medigen’s vaccine is doomed to failure, and it would not pass clinical trials,” Ho said.
NO CONNECTION: Centers for Disease Control Deputy Director-General Chuang Jen-hsiang said the CECC has linked no deaths so far to the AstraZeneca vaccine Eleven people in the nation have died after receiving the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said yesterday, but the deaths should not deter older people with chronic health conditions from getting vaccinated. Nine of the deaths — people aged 65 to 97 — took place three hours to one day after the AstraZeneca vaccine was given, the center said, while eight of the 11 deaths were people aged 75 or older, most of whom had chronic health conditions. On Wednesday, the center said that 12 more people — seven women and five men aged 42 to 97 at
HELPING HAND: Vaccine eligibility can likely be widened to cover pregnant women now that the nation has more vaccine doses than it planned for, Chen Shih-chung said Taiwan yesterday received a shipment of 2.5 million COVID-19 vaccine doses donated by the US, obtaining its largest single batch of vaccines since the COVID-19 pandemic began early last year. A cargo plane of Taiwanese national carrier China Airlines Ltd (中華航空) carrying the Moderna Inc vaccines landed at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport at about 4:30pm, after leaving Memphis, Tennessee, early on Saturday, US time. Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) and American Institute in Taiwan Director Brent Christensen were at the airport to welcome the plane. The vaccines were transported to a cold chain logistics center, where they would be inspected
‘NO STRINGS ATTACHED’: The US is donating the shots without any political or economic conditions, and with the singular aim of saving lives, a senior US official said The US was yesterday to ship 2.5 million COVID-19 vaccine doses to Taiwan, a senior US administration official told Reuters, more than tripling Washington’s previous allocation of shots for the nation. Washington, competing with Beijing to deepen geopolitical clout through so-called “vaccine diplomacy,” had initially promised to donate 750,000 doses to Taiwan, but is increasing that number as US President Joe Biden’s administration advances its pledge to send 80 million US-made shots around the world. The 2.5 million donated doses of the Moderna Inc vaccine would leave Memphis, Tennessee, on a flight belonging to Taiwan’s national carrier, China Airlines Ltd (中華航空), early
VULNERABLE: The CECC has been moving older infected people or those with underlying health conditions, who were in isolation, to hospitals for better health monitoring The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday reported 75 locally transmitted COVID-19 infections, the lowest daily count since the nationwide level 3 alert was issued last month. Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, said the 75 local infections are 35 males and 40 females, aged from under five to over 80, and they began experiencing symptoms between June 8 and Sunday. New Taipei City reported 38 cases, followed by Taipei with 22, Taoyuan with five, Miaoli County with three, Keelung and Taichung with two each, and Kaohsiung, Yunlin County and Changhua County with one each, CECC