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Taiwan may obtain and see availability of COVID-19 vaccine by mid-2021

People in Taiwan may be able to obtain a COVID-19 vaccine, developed and produced by international companies, by mid-2021, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said Tuesday.

An experimental vaccine developed by the American biotech company Moderna Inc. has yielded striking early results, showing close to 95 percent efficacy, it was announced Monday, one week after Pfizer and BioNTech reported promising results in their joint COVID-19 vaccine trials.

Asked about Taiwan's plans to acquire COVID-19 vaccines, CECC spokesman Chuang Jen-hsiang said Tuesday that while the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines are in the third stage of human trials, there are other candidates.

Taiwan will not focus on any one vaccine candidate but rather would try to acquire them through the COVAX allocation plan, domestic research and development programs, and from international drug makers, he said.

Under the CECC's procurement plan, COVID-19 vaccines procured from international suppliers may become available to people in Taiwan by mid-2021, Chuang said.

He said the CECC was in contact with Moderna in August and September, and they talked about the projected supply date for the vaccine and the quantity Taiwan would require.

The CECC has budgeted NT$11.5 billion (US$403 million) for the purchase of 1.5 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine, which works out to NT$700 each, excluding shipping costs, he said.

Under the COVAX global vaccine allocation plan, countries can sign up to purchase COVID-19 vaccines. The project's aim is to accelerate the development and manufacture of the vaccines, as well as to guarantee fair and equitable access to the vaccines in every country.

Taiwan joined COVAX on Sept. 18, but the government has not made public how many doses of vaccine it intends to buy through the plan. -Central News Agency



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