Vice President William Lai (賴清德) yesterday received a shot of the domestically produced Medigen COVID-19 vaccine, after several adverse events, including five deaths reported this week, have cast doubt over its safety.
As part of the government’s efforts to encourage people to get the Medigen jab, Lai’s vaccination was streamed live on Facebook, starting with his arrival at National Taiwan University College of Medicine’s gym in Taipei.
The cameras then followed the vice president as his temperature was checked, as he completed a patient information form and as he was briefed by a doctor about vaccine aftercare.
Photo: Tu Chien-jung, Taipei Times
A nurse then opened the vaccine’s packaging, showed the label to Lai, removed a syringe and administered the jab.
Medigen doses are prepackaged in syringes, rather than in glass vials, the Central Emergency Command Center (CECC) said.
After receiving the vaccine, Lai showed his yellow vaccination card, and posed for photographs with doctors, nurses and other healthcare personnel.
The vice president then told reporters that he felt fine, and that members of the public who are eligible for vaccination should register for an appointment.
Lai was accompanied to the vaccination site by Presidential Office spokeswoman Kolas Yotaka and Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Chiu Tai-yuan (邱泰源).
The government said it organized the livestream to boost public confidence in the Medigen vaccine.
Since the jab’s rollout started on Monday, five people have died after receiving the vaccine, and several adverse events have been reported.
Citing initial autopsy reports, the CECC said that a Malaysian-born columnist surnamed Lu (陸) died due to an aortic dissection, while the other three deaths were linked to drug addiction, diabetes or a heart attack.
No causal relation has been established between the fatalities and the Medigen vaccine, it said.
Later yesteday, the CECC said that a New Taipei City man with a history of pancreatic cancer who received a shot of the vaccine on Tuesday died on Thursday, adding that that the cause of death is under investigation.
The vaccine, developed and produced by Medigen Vaccine Biologics Corp, stirred controversy even before its rollout, as it was last month granted emergency use authorization based on the level of COVID-19 antibodies it generated in phase 2 clinical trial participants, without undergoing phase 3 trials.
Its phase trials, conducted in Taiwan, had fewer than 4,000 participants and did not generate any data on its efficacy against the COVID-19 virus.
President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) also received the Medigen vaccine on Monday.
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