CORONAVIRUS/Taiwan to begin Moderna vaccine rollout Wednesday

06/07/2021 04:23 PM
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Vials of the Moderna vaccine. Photo courtesy of the FDA
Vials of the Moderna vaccine. Photo courtesy of the FDA

Taipei, June 7 (CNA) Taiwan's inspection of a Moderna COVID-19 vaccine shipment it received on May 28 will be completed Monday evening, and it will start giving shots Wednesday, according to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The inspection procedure for the 150,000 vaccine doses, the only batch of Moderna Taiwan has received, will be completed earlier than expected because a faster method was adopted, FDA head Wu Shou-mei (吳秀梅) told reporters Monday.

After the inspection and tests are completed, distribution of the Moderna vaccines will begin Tuesday, and health workers can start receiving the jabs Wednesday, Wu said.

The 150,000 Moderna doses are being reserved for the roughly 70,000 unvaccinated medical workers at hospitals where COVID-19 patients are being treated, Health and Welfare Minister Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) said Sunday.

Meanwhile, the 1.24 million shots of AstraZeneca vaccine donated last week by Japan will be also be reserved for certain categories of people, including medical personnel, epidemic prevention workers, and employees in other high-risk jobs, Chen said.

Others eligible categories include seniors 75 years old and over and those in long-term care facilities, dialysis patients, and essential workers in key industries, Chen said.

He said the approximately 3,000 people who will administer the national college entrance exam in July will also be offered the AstraZeneca jabs, and some doses will be reserved for people who are due to have their second shot.

FDA inspection of the AstraZeneca vaccines from Japan is expected to be completed on June 11, and rollout will start June 15, according to Chen.

Taiwan has signed contracts to purchase nearly 20 million vaccines from abroad, including 5.05 million doses of Moderna, 10 million of AstraZeneca, and 4.76 million doses of unspecified brands through the COVAX program.

It has also signed contracts to buy 10 million doses of vaccines from two domestic companies.

To date, Taiwan has received 150,000 doses of Moderna and over 1.9 million doses of AstraZeneca -- 1.24 million donated by Japan and 726,600 purchased from the manufacturer and through COVAX.

As of Monday, 699,187 doses of COVID-19 vaccines had been administered in Taiwan, a country with a population of 23 million.

(By Chiang Hui-chun and Chiang Yi-ching)

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