Shipment term

Taiwan receives first shipment of second-generation COVID-19 vaccine

Taipei, Sep 17 (CNA) The first shipment of 804,000 doses of second-generation Moderna Spikevax COVID-19 vaccine targeting the original virus from 2020 and Omicron BA. 1 sub-variant arrived in Taiwan late Friday evening and is expected to be distributed to local governments starting September 24.

The bivalent vaccine doses arrived at Taoyuan International Airport at 10:56 p.m. on China Airlines flight 5245, which had taken off from the US city of Atlanta.

They will undergo a process of inspection and packaging before being distributed.

A second batch of around 800,000 doses of the vaccine is expected to arrive in Taiwan on Sunday.

CECC chief Victor Wang (王必勝) said the vaccine is effective against the original 2020 COVID-19 virus strain, as well as Omicron BA.1, BA.2 and BA.5 subvariants.

According to plans set by the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC), vaccine doses will be offered in two stages as boosters, with the first stage targeting people aged 65 or older, residents of long-term care facilities and people who are at least 18 years old and are immunocompromised.

President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) said Friday evening that the latest delivery of vaccine doses was proof that her administration had not lost sight of its duty to contain COVID-19 outbreaks in the country, before local elections in November.

In a social media post, she called on people to refrain from exploiting the country’s vaccine supply problems and disease prevention efforts to discredit her administration ahead of the election.

The president’s remarks came a week after Yen Po-wen (顏博文), the executive director of the Buddhist Compassion Relief Foundation Tzu Chi, said in a media interview that his foundation had encountered difficulties trying to buy and donating COVID-19 vaccines to the Taiwan government last year, when Taiwan experienced its first major outbreak of the disease, resulting in around 800 deaths.

Yen said he received calls from political and business heavyweights at the time, urging his foundation to drop out. He also claimed that a government official told him, “Don’t think about it.”

Following Yen’s allegations, Taiwan’s main opposition Kuomintang and Taiwan People’s Party blamed the government for disregarding human lives and alleged the administration had delayed the purchase. of the Pfizer-BioNTech (BNT) COVID-19 vaccine to benefit Medigen Vaccine Biologics Corp., a Taiwanese vaccine manufacturer that has developed its own COVID-19 vaccine.

Tsai’s administration and his ruling Democratic Progressive Party have been accused by opposition parties since last year of playing politics with vaccine imports, which has delayed vaccine procurement. Vaccines finally became widely available in Taiwan last fall.

Tsai’s administration strongly denied the allegations and insisted it had worked hard all along to get vaccines for Taiwan.

To date, Taiwan has received 92.67 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines, including 68.41 million doses through government procurement and the rest through private and international donations, Tsai said.

The president also thanked Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC), the Tzu Chi Foundation and Hon Hai Precision Industry Co. for donating a combined 15 million doses of the BNT vaccine to the government last year.

The companies and Tzu Chi stepped in in June last year when government procurement was criticized as slow and insufficient to meet Taiwan’s needs at the time.