Taiwan has secured nearly 15 million COVID-19 vaccine doses, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said yesterday, as it reported five new imported infections among travelers from Indonesia and the Philippines.
Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, said that Taiwan on Monday signed a procurement contract with a COVID-19 vaccine manufacturer and paid a deposit to secure 10 million doses.
It was the first contract finalized with a manufacturer and negotiations are under way with three other vaccine makers, Chen said.
With the more than 4.6 million doses that can be obtained through the COVAX platform — a global framework to accelerate the development and manufacture of COVID-19 vaccines and ensure equitable distribution among member countries — Taiwan has secured nearly 15 million doses, he said.
Asked when the doses might be available locally, Chen said that safety and effectiveness are the most important factors, so specialists would first assess the vaccines.
The center can only count on the amount of doses secured and continue to negotiate to receive more doses as soon as possible to meet public demand, he said.
No one can guarantee the timing, as the vaccines are still in clinical trials, he said.
“If anyone could assure us that we could get the shots in the first quarter of next year, we could set off firecrackers to celebrate,” he said.
Meanwhile, five new imported cases of COVID-19 infection have been confirmed, Chen said.
Three Indonesian women, aged 30 to 50, on Nov. 10 entered Taiwan for work, he said.
They arrived without symptoms and stayed at centralized quarantine facilities, he said.
The women were on Monday tested before completing their quarantine, and the results returned positive yesterday, Chen said.
A Filipina in her 20s and a Filipino in his 30s, who entered Taiwan for work on Nov. 10 and Nov. 11 respectively, did not have symptoms when they arrived and stayed at centralized quarantine facilities, Chen said.
The Filipina was tested for COVID-19 on Monday before ending her quarantine and the Filipino on Tuesday, and their results returned positive yesterday, he said.
The five people have been hospitalized, but no contacts were identified for contact tracing, he said.
Although Chinese authorities have said that they detected SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, on several packages of imported frozen food, the WHO has stated that there is no evidence that people can catch COVID-19 from food or food packaging, Chen said.
However, the center has asked the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to inspect imported frozen food packages — to be on the safe side, he said.
FDA Director-General Wu Shou-mei (吳秀梅) said that the agency conducted random inspections from Nov. 6 to Friday last week on the exterior and interior packaging of 11 batches of beef, pork and salmon products imported from four countries with a high prevalence of COVID-19.
The results of the polymerase chain reaction tests on the packaging, before and after disinfection, all returned negative, Wu said.
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