Taiwan clears its own Medigen Covid-19 vaccine for emergency use

A medical worker extracts the recombinant novel coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine into a syringe in Wuhan, Central China's Hubei province, on March 24, 2020. The first batch of 108 volunteers received inoculations after a clinical trial of the novel coronavirus vaccine in China kicked off on March 16. [Photo by Zhu Xingxin/chinadaily.com.cn]. Sketched by the Pan Pacific Agency.

TAIPEI, Jul 19, 2021, SCMP. Taiwan’s government on Monday approved the use and production of Medigen Vaccine Biologics Corp’s Covid-19 vaccine candidate, a major step in the island’s plans to develop its own vaccines to protect against the coronavirus, South China Morning Post reported.

Taiwan-based Medigen said last month it was seeking a speedy emergency use authorisation, or EUA, from the government for its vaccine candidate after safely completing phase 2 trials.

Developing its own vaccine has been a major goal of Taiwan’s government, though it also has ordered some 20 million shots from Moderna, AstraZeneca and the Covax Facility global sharing scheme.

The health ministry said in clinical trials in Taiwan the antibodies created by Medigen’s vaccine candidate had been proven to be “no worse than” those created by AstraZeneca vaccines, and that there were no major safety concerns.

The ministry added that Medigen had to present a monthly report on safety for the vaccine candidate, MVC-COV1901, which is designed for people aged over 20, who will get two shots 28 days apart.

All eyes on Taiwan’s home-grown vaccines as 2 local developers await emergency approval
Health Minister Chen Shih-chung told reporters that with the EUA approved, it would now take some time for the company to ramp up its production.

“There should be a small amount of supply available in August,” he added.

The recombinant protein vaccine has been developed in collaboration with the National Institutes of Health in the United States.

Taiwan’s government in May signed deals with Medigen, and another firm developing a domestic vaccine, UBI Pharma, for 5 million doses each, and has agreements for another 5 million each, for a total of 20 million shots.

The EUA for UBI’s vaccine candidate is still pending.

Taiwan has massively ramped up its vaccination programme in the last month following the donation of almost 6 million vaccine doses from Japan and the United States and the gradual arrival of vaccines directly ordered from manufacturers.

Around 20 per cent of Taiwan’s 23.5 million people have received at least one of the two-shot vaccine regimen.

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