CORONAVIRUS/First batch of COVID-19 vaccines from COVAX arrives

04/04/2021 09:29 AM
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CNA photo April 4, 2021
CNA photo April 4, 2021

Update: Rollout of Taiwan's new batch of COVID-19 vaccines may begin April 12

Taipei, April 4 (CNA) The shipment of the first batch of COVID-19 vaccines allocated to Taiwan through the global vaccine sharing program COVAX arrived at the Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport Sunday morning.

The 199,200 doses of AstraZeneca vaccine were shipped from Amsterdam, the Netherlands, by an A350-900 aircraft operated by Taiwan's China Airlines. The flight landed at the Taoyuan airport at 5:21 a.m.

Customs inspectors and airport police officers examined the shipment documents and the cargoes by the side of the airplane before they were escorted by airport police to a cold-chain warehouse at which clearance procedures will be performed.

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 unspecified vaccine brands through the COVAX allocation program.

On March 3, Taiwan took delivery of its first batch of COVID-19 vaccines -- 117,000 doses purchased directly from AstraZeneca -- and began the rollout on March 22.

Only around 17,000 people have taken the vaccine, however, due to concerns about its safety, despite government reassurances that the advantages outweigh the risks.

The Sunday shipment was the first batch of vaccines allocated to Taiwan through COVAX, a global initiative aimed at equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines.

CNA photo April 4, 2021
CNA photo April 4, 2021

Health Minister Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) said on Saturday that 1.02 million doses of AstraZeneca have been allocated to Taiwan through COVAX, and delivery was scheduled to start in February but was delayed.

Following the delivery of Taiwan's first shipment from COVAX on Sunday, the country hopes to later obtain other vaccine brands when they become available through the sharing program, said Chen, who heads the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC).

As of Saturday, 17,056 people, mostly medical workers and hospital staff, had received their first dose of AstraZeneca, CECC data showed.

(By Wu Jui-chi and Elizabeth Hsu)

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