CORONAVIRUS/Some 722,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines in Taiwan about to expire
Taipei, March 21 (CNA) Around 722,000 doses of Taiwan's COVID-19 vaccine stock will expire in March and will have to be discarded if they are not used by then, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said Monday.
At a press briefing, CECC spokesperson Chuang Jen-hsiang (莊人祥) said 340,000 doses of the Moderna brand and 70,000 doses of Pfizer-BioNTech (BNT) will reach their expiry date this week, while 312,000 doses of AstraZeneca will expire at the end of March.
Taiwan has had to discard COVID-19 vaccines before, but never as many as 722,000 doses in a month, Chuang said, adding that there were fewer than 1,000 doses in the previous batches.
Citing foreign media reports, Chuang said the United States has disposed of 65 million doses of expired COVID-19 vaccines so far, and other countries like Canada, India, and Indonesia will also see some of their stock expire soon.
Chuang called on people in Taiwan who have not yet been vaccinated against COVID-19 to do so as soon as possible.
Currently, anyone in Taiwan wanting a first or second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine can make an appointment directly at a hospital, clinic or government health center.
Those eligible for a third dose, however, are required to book their appointments on the government's 1922 COVID-19 vaccination website, which usually accepts bookings Wednesday to Friday each week for shots to be administered the following week.
Also on Monday, Chuang said Taiwan will soon obtain more BNT vaccines, but he did not elaborate.
In response to reporters' questions, Chuang also said Taiwan will likely be one of the first countries to receive shipments of the second-generation Moderna vaccine that is currently in clinical trials in the U.S. and United Kingdom, if it proves effective.
Taiwan signed a contract with Moderna in July 2021 to procure 35 million COVID-19 vaccine doses 2022-2023 and has the option to choose second-generation vaccines, under that deal, Chuang said.
To date, 83.3 percent of Taiwan's 23.32 million population has received at least one COVID-19 shot, while 78.0 percent has gotten two doses, according to the CECC.
Since Taiwan began giving third doses last December, 48.2 percent of the population has received a booster shot, and 0.8 percent has been given an additional dose, which is a third shot administered to immunocompromised people, CECC data shows.
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