Letter shows Manila did not seek to adopt EUA of Taiwan vaccine

06/18/2021 12:31 AM
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Taipei, June 18 (CNA) A letter from the Philippine's Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to a Taiwanese vaccine manufacturer about a half year ago expressed openness to collaborating with Taiwan in drug regulation, but did not commit to adopting any Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) of Taiwan's locally-produced COVID-19 vaccine.

On Tuesday, a Taiwanese weekly media reported that the Philippine FDA had written to a Taiwanese biotechnology company, stating its willingness to allow an indigenous Taiwanese COVID-19 vaccine to be used in the Philippines once they receive EUA in Taiwan.

The story was picked up by many media in Taiwan, with some implying that the Philippine side was interested in procuring the Taiwanese vaccine as long as it obtained an EUA from Taiwan's FDA.

The reports reached Manila and were denied by Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque and the country's vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr., after they were asked to comment by local news outlet the ABS-CBN News.

The controversy quickly caught the attention of Taiwanese people, who worried this issue could affect Taiwan-Philippines relations.

CNA was able to obtain a copy of the reported letter, which was dated Jan. 21.

The letter said: "The (Philippine) FDA recognizes the accomplishments and contributions of the TFDA (Taiwan FDA) in drug regulation. The FDA is open for collaboration in different aspects of drug regulations."

A source from the Philippine government told CNA on Thursday that the Philippine FDA letter was a response to the Taiwanese vaccine company's inquiries on whether the Philippine FDA will recognize its Taiwanese counterpart as a competent authority.

The Philippine FDA only expressed openness to work with Taiwan's FDA on the matter of vaccine regulations, but did not make any commitments to that effect, the source clarified.

At least two Taiwanese biotechnology firms are expected to roll out their vaccines in the coming months.

Both vaccines have not started Phase 3 clinical trials yet and have not been granted an EUA by Taiwan's FDA at the moment.

There have been concerns among opposition parties and the general public that Taiwan's government may be rushing to approve the Taiwanese vaccines, and that EUAs will be granted to them even though they have not begun Phase 3 trials.

President Tsai Ing-wen's (蔡英文) administration has stressed that indigenous vaccines must meet the government's safety and efficacy standards before they are granted EUA and released for public use, and that the government will respect science.

The main opposition party Kuomintang (KMT) on Thursday issued a statement demanding the government investigate the Taiwanese weekly to see if there was any intentional dissemination of disinformation in its report, especially as Tsai's administration has been threatening to go after anyone spreading false information during the COVID-19 outbreak in Taiwan.

"During the pandemic period, the Tsai government has been warning the public not to spread misinformation and violators could face a fine of up to NT$3 million (approximately US$ 108,244). We call on the Tsai administration to investigate into the spread of misinformation that may have to do with the domestic propaganda and/or stock prices of a specific company," according to the KMT statement.

Taiwan's Presidential Office confirmed on Tuesday that the Philippine government has not made any request regarding Taiwan's as yet unauthorized indigenous COVID-19 vaccines and that the office has asked relevant media outlets to correct their erroneous reports.

(By Emerson Lim)

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