CORONAVIRUS/Taiwan can buy COVID-19 vaccines for 10-50% of population through COVAX

11/24/2020 08:55 PM
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CECC spokesman Chuang Jen-hsiang. CNA photo Nov. 24, 2020
CECC spokesman Chuang Jen-hsiang. CNA photo Nov. 24, 2020

Update: Taiwan to purchase 10 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine: health minister

Taipei, Nov. 24 (CNA) Taiwan can procure COVID-19 vaccines for 10-50 percent of the country's population through the COVAX allocation platform, a top Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) official said on Tuesday, although he declined to give the specific amount that Taiwan plans to buy.

Under a deal Taiwan signed with COVAX in September, Taiwan will purchase at least enough doses to vaccinate 10 percent of the population, which amounts to around 2.3 million people, CECC spokesman Chuang Jen-hsiang (莊人祥) said at a press briefing.

COVAX is a global vaccine allocation plan through which countries can sign up to purchase COVID-19 vaccines. The project's aim is to accelerate the development and manufacture of the vaccines, as well as guarantee fair and equitable access to the vaccines in every country.

Currently, three vaccines developed by international companies have been confirmed to be on COVAX's portfolio, according to Chuang.

One of the vaccines is being developed by Oxford University and British drugmaker AstraZeneca, another is by U.S. pharmaceutical company Pfizer and German biotech firm BNT, and the third is by the pharmaceutical companies Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline, which are based in France and the U.K., respectively.

Taiwan will make a decision on which one to purchase when clinical trials are completed and the efficacy data and prices are revealed, he said.

In total, Taiwan has budgeted NT$11.55 billion for the purchase of 30 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines and the CECC can ask for a further NT$5.28 billion if needed, Chuang said.

Chuang was also asked on Tuesday about the efficacy of the vaccine being developed by Oxford and AstraZeneca, as early data shows that it is only 70 percent effective.

In response, Chuang said that the developers had used different dosage plans on the participants of the vaccine trial, and that one dosage plan -- where participants first receive a half-dose of the vaccine, and then a full dose a month later -- was 90 percent effective.

According to the World Health Organization, a COVID-19 vaccine that is over 50 percent effective is considered "acceptable," Chuang said, so the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine should not be deemed ineffective.

(By Chang Ming-hsuan and Chiang Yi-ching)

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