CORONAVIRUS/Palau gives green light to Medigen-vaccinated travelers

10/08/2021 03:40 PM
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CNA file photo
CNA file photo

Singapore, Oct. 7 (CNA) Travelers that have received two shots of the Medigen COVID-19 vaccine will now be able to enter Palau, the Pacific island nation announced Thursday.

Republic of China (Taiwan) Ambassador to Palau Wallace Chow (周民淦) told CNA Thursday of the approval of the vaccine made by Taiwan-based Medigen Vaccine Biologics Corp., after an announcement earlier in the day by Palau President Surangel Whipps Jr.

Whipps Jr. presented Chow with a directive issued on Oct. 7 by Palau's health authorities confirming the recognition of Medigen, at a cocktail party held by the embassy to celebrate the ROC's Oct. 10 National Day.

Noting the timing of the announcement, Chow described the directive as a National Day gift for Taiwan.

Palau President Surangel Whipps Jr. (left) and Republic of China (Taiwan) Ambassador to Palau Wallace Chow (right) (Image taken from Chow
Palau President Surangel Whipps Jr. (left) and Republic of China (Taiwan) Ambassador to Palau Wallace Chow (right) (Image taken from Chow's Facebook page)

To date, 52,000 people have been fully vaccinated with two shots of Medigen in Taiwan, with 736,000 having received at least one dose.

Medigen was granted emergency use authorization by the Taiwan Food and Drug Administration in July, but has yet to complete Phase 3 trials to determine the extent of its efficacy against COVID-19.

Palau's new directive stipulates that travelers must submit proof they have been fully vaccinated using an approved brand, with the final dose administered at least 14 days prior to departure to Palau.

According to the directive, vaccines must have been granted emergency use authorization by either the United States Food and Drug Administration or the World Health Organization.

Palau "also accepts the Medigen vaccine authorized by the Republic of China - Taiwan's health authorities."

For commercial air travel, travelers must submit proof of vaccination to the airline, the directive says.

The vaccine requirement, however, does not apply to those traveling via the Taiwan-Palau "travel bubble," according to the Taipei office of the Palau Visitors Authority.

The bubble, which allows travel between Taiwan and Palau under reduced health protocols, was launched on April 1, before being suspended from mid-May until Aug. 14 after a surge of COVID-19 cases in Taiwan.

Palau used the bubble to court vaccine tourism, offering travelers the chance to receive their COVID-19 jab at a time when Taiwan was struggling to secure adequate supplies.

Note: the Oct. 8 delivery of the Moderna vaccine is expected to arrive in Taiwan late that night and the following morning.
Note: the Oct. 8 delivery of the Moderna vaccine is expected to arrive in Taiwan late that night and the following morning.

Palau's recognition of Medigen -- the only domestic brand to gain emergency use authorization from Taiwan's Food and Drug Administration -- came days after New Zealand added it to its list of approved COVID-19 vaccines.

On Oct. 3, Wellington announced that beginning Nov. 1 noncitizens must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 to enter the country.

In addition to Medigen, a total of 22 brands are currently accepted under New Zealand's regulations, including the AstraZeneca, Pfizer/BNT and Moderna vaccines received by the majority of those in Taiwan.

(By Elaine Hou and Elizabeth Hsu)

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