Taiwan's president receives a shot of the first domestically developed Covid-19 vaccine


August 24, 2021: -President Tsai Ing-wen got vaccinated with domestically developed Covid-19 vaccine in Taiwan on Monday, giving her stamp of approval as the island started rolling out the dose whose approval critics say has been rushed.

Last month, the health ministry approved the emergency use of Medigen Vaccine Biologics Corp’s Covid-19 vaccine, a broader plan for inoculation self-sufficiency as the vaccine delays the deliveries from global drug companies have affected Taiwan and many other countries.

Tsai, holding off using vaccines from Moderna or AstraZeneca, the current mainstay of the vaccination program of Taiwan, received her Medigen dose at a hospital in central Taipei, which demonstrates her confidence in the safety of the vaccine.

Tsai chatted to medical workers as they prepared her dose, the whole process being broadcast live on her Facebook page, and answered “no” to a shouted question from reporters if she was nervous.

Over 700,000 people have signed up so far to receive the Medigen vaccine, requiring a second dose 28 days after the first dose.

The initial experience of the pandemic in the previous year, when basic supplies like face masks were in short supply, made it realize they had to rely on themselves for critical materials, the government says.

Medigen, the meaning of the name in Chinese, would be “high-end,” rejects claims its vaccine is either unsafe or that it has been sent to market with undue haste, which says that it is effective and tested well.

“We have done so many experiments; everyone has seen how safe our vaccine is. There are so few side effects, almost no fever, and so on. So I think everyone can rest assured,” the Chief Executive Officer Charles Chen of Medigen told Reuters.

The recombinant protein vaccine has been developed in collaboration with the National Institutes of Health in the U.S, and the government has ordered a starting of 5 million doses. It says nobody will be forced to get it.

The vaccine has not been to clinical trials yet, and no efficacy data is available. Still, the government says studies so far have shown that antibodies created by the dose have been “no worse than” those created by AstraZeneca’s vaccine.

Almost 40% of Taiwan’s 23.5 million people have received at least one dose of either of the two-dose AstraZeneca or Moderna vaccines, though less than 5% are fully vaccinated.

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