Taiwan ‘puts all eggs in one basket’ by refusing mainland vaccines

By Leng Shumei Source: Global Times Published: 2020/9/27 22:53:55

vaccine Photo:Li Hao/GT


Experts warned that the island of Taiwan is "putting all its eggs in one basket" as island officials said that they would not purchase COVID-19 vaccines from the Chinese mainland, even though the mainland has an apparent advantage in vaccine research and development by contributing four of the world's nine COVID-19 candidate vaccines undergoing Phase III clinical trials. 

On Friday, the Taiwan island's health department head Chen Shih-chung said that the island had signed a contract with the World Health Organization and would obtain vaccines from the organization's COVAX facility. It noted that it would not purchase vaccines from the mainland, claiming that drugs and vaccines made on the mainland had shown many problems. 

Chen said the contract was signed on September 18 and the island would pay a deposit in October. 

Observers from both sides criticized the Taiwan regional government's move as putting politics over people's health. 

"If the mainland successfully produces safe vaccines and at a  proper price, the government should put Taiwan residents' health as a priority," said a Taiwan legislator from the Kuomintang. 

The South China Morning Post reported on September 21 that two-dose vaccines of the China National Biotec Group (CNBG) were being those reviewed for "conditional approval" from the national drug regulator, and if given the green light, the vaccines would be available for at most 600 yuan ($88) for two doses. 

CNBG previously announced that its inactivated COVID-19 vaccines might come onto the market by the end of this year.  

Some other observers pointed out that the island would be left with few options if the local government refused mainland vaccines as four of the nine most likely vaccine candidates are from the mainland. 

Apart from the four candidates from China, another of the current nine candidates in Phase III clinical trials is from Russia and the other four are from the US or Europe. 

But three of them are ultra high-tech vaccines that must be delivered under -80 C, which is out of the island's current capacity, experts noted. 

Delivery under -70 C has very high requirements for facilities, which means that the island, if it uses such vaccines, has to rebuild its cold chain transportation facilities. 

On the contrary, the CNBG inactivated vaccines, as well as a recombinant vaccine developed by mainland vaccine producer CanSino Biotech Inc., can be transported with the island's current cold chain facility of 2-8 C temperatures, Tao Lina, a Shanghai-based immunological expert, told the Global Times on Sunday.

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