CORONAVIRUS/First batch of Moderna COVID-19 vaccine to arrive Friday
Taipei, May 27 (CNA) The first batch of 150,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine Taiwan purchased from American pharmaceutical and biotechnology company Moderna is expected to arrive in the country on Friday, Health Minister Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) told reporters Thursday.
The first shipment of the Moderna vaccine is scheduled to leave Luxembourg on a China Airlines cargo plane around midnight Thursday (Taipei time), Chen made the announcement that evening.
After the vaccine arrives in Taiwan Friday afternoon, it will be inspected and labeled, which will take around two weeks before it can be administered, the minister said.
According to Chen, the first shipment of the Moderna vaccine will not expire until November, and Taiwan expects to receive another delivery from Moderna in June.
In addition to the 5.05 million doses Taiwan has ordered from Moderna, Chen said the country plans to place orders next year for the next generation COVID-19 vaccine to be developed by the company because of new variants of the coronavirus.
Medical personnel will be the first group to take the Moderna vaccine to ensure doctors and nurses are protected, as frontline workers have had to deal with a surge of more than 5,000 domestically-transmitted COVID-19 cases since mid-May, Chen said.
Earlier in the week, Chen said that Taiwan expects to receive 2 million doses of vaccine by the end of June and the total will reach 10 million by Aug. 31.
Since March, Taiwan has received 726,600 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, one batch directly from the manufacturer, and others through the COVAX global vaccine-sharing program.
The country rolled out its vaccination program on March 22, and 325,247 doses had been administered as of Wednesday, statistics released by the Centers for Disease Control showed.
With its population of more than 23 million, Taiwan has signed contracts to purchase 5.05 million doses of the Moderna vaccine, 10 million doses of AstraZeneca and 4.76 million doses of unspecified brands through the COVAX program.
Taiwan has also placed orders for locally developed vaccines, which are in clinical trials. They will push the total amount of vaccine secured to around 30 million, President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) said Wednesday.
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