Taiwan manages to grab BioNTech vaccine ‘abandoned’ by China

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TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) on Wednesday (Aug. 25) revealed the Pfizer–BioNTech (BNT) COVID-19 vaccine will arrive ahead of schedule despite Chinese labeling after Taiwan was able to wrestle away a shipment away from a third country.

Health Minister and CECC head Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) announced the first batch of BioNTech doses is scheduled to arrive in late August, a month earlier than the original delivery date. Chen said that Taiwan will accept the doses despite the fact they are labeled with the name of BioNTech’s Chinese partner Fosun Pharma and the shot’s official brand name, Comirnaty — both of which the government had expressly stated it did not want to be included on the packaging.

The vials and packaging are printed with the simplified Chinese characters 复必泰 (Comirnaty) and 复星医药 (Fosun Pharma) because the batch had originally been destined for another country. Chen said although the labels are different from the originally agreed-upon parameters, the government will still accept the doses for the sake of expediency, provided they are shipped directly to Taiwan and the quality is confirmed.

He said that after the doses arrive, they will be inspected and sealed by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and will only be distributed if they meet safety standards.

Alluding to efforts to secure an early batch of the vaccines in Europe, Chen said the government is grateful to Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC), Foxconn’s YongLin Foundation, and the Tzu Chi Foundation for “working so hard during this period in Europe to strive for this early supply of vaccines for the Taiwanese people.”

On Wednesday, UDN reported that during his visit to the Czech Republic, Foxconn founder Terry Gou (郭台銘) realized that European countries were competing for a shipment of the vaccine. He engaged in the bidding process and succeeded in securing a large batch for Taiwan ahead of schedule, with the original labels still intact. According to the report, an estimated 1.5 to 2 million doses will be part of the first wave later this month.

Reuters reported Wednesday that 1 million doses of the BioNTech vaccine will head to Taiwan in late August due to a delay in regulatory approval in China. The report cited a source as saying, “Shanghai Fosun did not manage to get approval, so they gave up their plan for vaccine imports.” The source added that Taiwan will be among a number of countries receiving orders “abandoned” by China.

According to the Liberty Times, Turkey was originally to receive 3 million doses of the vaccine rejected by China. However, it cited a high-level official as stating the CECC was able to negotiate for nearly 2 million doses from the batch originally bound for Turkey.

The official said the jabs will likely be delivered to Taiwan sometime between the end of August and early September. The precise shipment date is still pending approval by the European Union, according to the official.

Adding BNT to vaccine preferences to not affect place in line: CECC

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Pfizer-BNT vaccine could arrive in Taiwan in late September

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TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taiwan’s Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) on Tuesday (Aug. 3) announced that the Pfizer–BioNTech (BNT) COVID-19 vaccine has cleared emergency use authorization (EUA), with the doses possibly arriving as soon as September.

During a press conference on Tuesday, Health Minister and CECC head Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) announced that the Food and Drug Administration had completed the EUA for the Pfizer-BNT vaccine and that he would sign it that afternoon. The three Taiwanese organizations that purchased the 15 million doses on Taiwan’s behalf, TSMC, Foxconn’s YongLin Foundation, and the Tzu Chi Foundation, have stated that the doses could be shipped to Taiwan as early as the end of September, reported CNA.

Given that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved the Pfizer-BNT jab for people aged 12 and up, there is speculation in Taiwan that the 1.243 million children between the ages of 12 and 17 would be a priority group for the vaccine in Taiwan. In addition, there are 4.84 million people in Taiwan who have had one dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine who are considering mixing vaccines, by having the Pfizer-BNT product be their second shot, according to TTV News.

When asked which groups will be prioritized for the Pfizer-BNT shots on Tuesday, Chen said a meeting of experts will be convened to determine the distribution of the vaccines based on data from overseas “provided that it does not violate scientific evidence.” Chen emphasized that regardless of what the prioritization of vaccinations may be, students will not be expected to register individually.

He suggested that students could be registered in the system in batches in order to facilitate subsequent planning and faster, more convenient, and accurate record-keeping.