The Taiwan People’s Party (TPP) yesterday urged the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) to share the progress of international COVID-19 vaccine procurement and domestic vaccine development, accusing the center of giving people high expectations which it might not be able to realize.
Urging the center to “stop domestic propaganda,” the TPP posted on Facebook a list of news headlines published between September last year and this month, in which the center had discussed its progress in purchasing COVID-19 vaccines.
“We ask Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) to ‘undertake no more than he can perform’ on the issue of vaccines, and clearly explain the schedule for purchasing vaccines, so that Taiwanese do not hold high hopes only to be disappointed in the end,” the TPP wrote on Facebook.
The party said that since September last year, Chen had more than once announced that Taiwan has signed a contract and paid the deposit to purchase vaccines, as well as saying in December last year that Taiwan had secured nearly 20 million doses of vaccines.
While Chen repeatedly guaranteed vaccines, “the situation did not go as expected, and now he is avoiding announcing the schedule of when vaccines would be obtained,” the party wrote.
The Democratic Progressive Party should be more careful when speaking to the media and not “build castles in the sky,” the TPP said.
Chen, who heads the center, yesterday said that although the TPP urged him to “undertake no more than he can perform,” that is exactly what he has been doing, adding that he previously said he would only announce vaccine procurement progress when a contract has been signed and the deposit paid.
“According to foreign news reports, many countries are snatching up vaccines, but it does not mean we will give up,” he said. “We will continue to try to obtain vaccines through existing channels.”
As for the development of domestic vaccines, the center would not relax its standards on vaccine safety and effectiveness, but it would support vaccine makers by streamlining the application process, Chen said, adding that the center is discussing how to further support the manufacturing of vaccines once approval is gained.
On Saturday, Chen said that Taiwan could face delays in the delivery of COVID-19 vaccines from British-Swedish firm AstraZeneca, after the EU a day earlier introduced tighter rules on vaccine exports.
The new rules, which are to be enforced through March 31, stipulate that exports of COVID-19 vaccines produced in the bloc have to be approved by EU authorities.
Chen said that Taiwan has been in touch with COVAX, a WHO initiative to ensure access to COVID-19 vaccines for all countries, over the possible delay, but a reply had not yet been received.
Additional reporting by CNA
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