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Taiwan now recruiting 20,000 volunteers for COVID-19 vaccine trials

The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) on Wednesday announced that it is recruiting at least 20,000 volunteers to participate in clinical trials of locally developed COVID-19 vaccines.

Speaking at the CECC's weekly press briefing, Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) said three Taiwanese firms are expected to complete phase one testing of their vaccines in the coming days, but will require a larger pool of volunteers as they move into phase two trials.

To help the companies meet their recruiting goals, Chen said, the CECC has launched a website with the aim of registering at least 20,000 volunteers by the end of November.

CECC advisor Chang Shan-chwen (張上淳) explained that while phase one vaccine trials test for safety on a small group of 40-60 volunteers, phase two trials test for both safety and efficacy requires a much larger sample group.

Under guidelines set by Taiwan's Food and Drug Administration (FDA), phase two trials for COVID-19 vaccines must have at least 3,000 participants.

On the recruiting website (in Chinese only), volunteers are asked to provide their contact information for random distribution to one of the three vaccine developers currently conducting trials -- Adimmune Corp., United Biomedical and Medigen Vaccine Biologics Corp.

Volunteers must be at least 20 years old, or between 12-19 with the permission of a legal guardian, according to the site, and should not participate if they suffer from a chronic illness, have a compromised immune system, have recently undergone surgery or are pregnant or nursing.

An FDA representative confirmed with CNA that foreign nationals with National Health Insurance cards are also eligible to volunteer, but emphasized that the screening process will be carried out by the companies themselves.

At the press conference, Chang said the participants will receive food and transportation subsidies, but did not state the exact amount. On the small chance that anyone in the study experiences an adverse reaction, the government will "unconditionally" take responsibility for their treatment and compensation, he said. -Central News Agency



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