CORONAVIRUS/Rollout of Taiwan's new batch of COVID-19 vaccines may begin April 12
Taipei, April 4 (CNA) The inspection of the latest batch of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines delivered to Taiwan on Sunday may be completed by April 12, according to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
The FDA, which conducts the inspection, said it will randomly select 600 of the 199,200 vaccine doses in the new shipment and will carry out seven types of tests to ensure their safety.
The testing process may be completed as early as April 12, after which distribution can begin, the FDA said in a statement. According to an FDA official, the expiration date of the vaccines is May 31.
The shipment on Sunday is the second batch of COVID-19 vaccines Taiwan has obtained so far and the first it has received under COVAX, a global vaccination sharing program initiated by major world organizations.
The first batch Taiwan obtained -- 117,000 doses purchased directly from AstraZeneca and delivered on March 3 -- is due to expire on June 15, according to the FDA.
Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) said Saturday that the short expiration date on the second batch was due to a delay in the shipment.
The vaccines sent through COVAX were shipped from South Korea, where they were produced, to Amsterdam and then to Taiwan, said Chen, who heads the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC).
He said the CECC will expand the vaccine eligibility categories faster so that the new AstraZeneca shots do not go to waste.
As of Sunday, 17,078 people, mostly medical personnel at hospitals that treat COVID-19 patients, had received their first dose of AstraZeneca, CECC data showed.
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 brands through the COVAX allocation program.
Sunday's shipment was the first of 1.02 million doses of AstraZeneca that are expected to be supplied via COVAX.
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