CORONAVIRUS/Taiwan receives 400,000 COVID-19 vaccines

05/19/2021 06:49 PM
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The vaccines are offloaded from an EVA Airways plane. CNA photo May 19, 2021
The vaccines are offloaded from an EVA Airways plane. CNA photo May 19, 2021

Taipei, May 19 (CNA) Taiwan took delivery of 400,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine on Wednesday, which may be available to the public in a week amid an escalation of domestically transmitted COVID-19 cases, according to the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC).

The vaccines, shipped from Amsterdam, arrived at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport at 3:34 p.m.

CECC commander and Health Minister Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) said the vaccines were the second batch Taiwan has received from the global vaccine sharing program COVAX.

The vaccines, which will expire on Aug. 31, could complete safety testing and begin to be distributed by as early as May 26, he said, adding that some of them will be reserved for at-risk personnel such as medical workers.

Taiwan has signed contracts with various sources to purchase nearly 20 million vaccine doses, including 5.05 million doses of the Moderna vaccine, 10 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine and 4.76 million doses of unspecified brands through the COVAX program.

Before Wednesday's shipment, Taiwan had taken delivery of 117,000 vaccine doses purchased directly from AstraZeneca and 199,200 doses of the same brand supplied through COVAX.

According to the CECC, 245,008 doses had been administered as of Tuesday, with 21,212 doses used in that single day.

A locally developed vaccine is expected to become available in July, according to health authorities.

Taiwan had trouble getting people to accept being vaccinated for weeks after the first vaccines arrived but a recent surge in COVID-19 cases in the country has changed people's minds, sending demand up considerably.

Taiwan reported 275 new cases on Wednesday, which brought the total number of cases in the country to 2,533, of which 1,226 cases have been domestic infections reported since May 15, according to CECC data.

(By Wu Rui-chi and Lee Hsin-Yin)


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