CORONAVIRUS/Local testing on AstraZeneca vaccines likely complete by March 17: CECC

03/12/2021 05:43 PM
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CECC spokesman Chuang Jen-hsiang (center) speaks at Friday
CECC spokesman Chuang Jen-hsiang (center) speaks at Friday's press briefing. Photo courtesy of the CECC

Taipei, March 12 (CNA) Testing on the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine doses that Taiwan received last week is expected to be completed by March 17, after which the vaccines could start being administered in a matter of days, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said Friday.

The vaccine doses have already passed six of the seven checks in the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) inspection process and are currently undergoing sterility testing, which is likely to be completed by March 17, Minister of Health and Welfare and CECC head Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) said in response to questions from the media.

In a press briefing later that day, CECC spokesman Chuang Jen-hsiang (莊人祥) said that once the testing is finished, the health authorities will label the doses and begin the distribution process.

"That will probably take three to four days at the fastest," he said.

During the questioning, Chen was also asked to respond to a decision by Denmark, Norway and Iceland a day earlier to temporarily suspend use of the AstraZeneca vaccine after reports of blood clots forming among some people who had received the inoculation.

"Currently, the European Union has said it has no direct evidence (of any safety risks) and so our position will be to continue urging people to get vaccinated," he said.

Echoing Chen's remarks, National Taiwan University Hospital superintendent Wu Ming-shiang (吳明賢) said he was willing to lead his hospital's 8,000 staff members in getting the vaccine once it becomes available.

Taiwan received its first batch of COVID-19 vaccines, comprising 117,000 AstraZeneca doses, on March 3.

According to the CECC's vaccination priority list, the doses will first be given to medical and non-medical personnel in hospitals, clinics and quarantine centers, and then to a more widespread group of epidemic prevention workers.

In total, Taiwan has signed contracts to purchase a total of 10 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, 5.05 million doses of the Moderna vaccine and 4.76 million doses of vaccines through the COVAX allocation program.

(By Chang Ming-hsuan, Lin Yu-hsuan and Matthew Mazzetta)

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