Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Lai Shyh-bao (賴士葆) yesterday called for an investigation into allegations that the government blocked vaccine purchases from major manufacturers to prop up the stock price of Medigen Vaccine Biologics.
The Central Epidemic Command Center on Sunday evening said that the government has signed contracts with Medigen and United Biomedical to buy 5 million vaccine doses from each firm.
The vaccines developed by the two Taiwanese companies are still undergoing phase 2 clinical trials and the firms have announced plans to apply for emergency use authorization this month.
Lai said that businesses, religious groups and local governments are willing to buy vaccines from Germany’s BioNTech, but that the government has been blocking their efforts.
Now that the Medigen deal has been announced, the true reason has been revealed, he said, adding that the contracts with Medigen and United Biomedical allow the government to purchase up to 10 million doses from each company.
The government is afraid that no one would use domestic vaccines if large numbers of BioNTech vaccines were imported, Lai said.
Now that it has secured a contract, Medigen’s stock price is soaring, he said, claiming that vaccine development is being used as a guise for propping up the stock.
Medigen shares yesterday fell 9.9 percent to close at NT$350.50. They have risen 291 percent since the beginning of this year.
The firm’s parent company is Medigen Biotechnology, whose stock price at one point surpassed NT$400, but has since fallen to below NT$75, Lai said.
Medigen’s stock price surged to NT$452 in April 2014, before dropping sharply after the company’s drug for liver cancer failed to pass clinical tests.
People do not want to see the government become an accomplice in market speculation, Lai said, calling on the Financial Supervisory Commission to investigate his claims.
Lai said that Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) justified the purchase by saying that other nations have granted emergency use authorization while phase 3 trials were ongoing, but even a half-completed phase 3 trial provides far more evidence than a half-completed phase 2 trial.
KMT Legislator Lee Guei-min (李貴敏) asked if the Medigen vaccine would be accepted internationally without phase 3 trials.
Additional reporting by staff writer
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