In a reversal from statements the previous day, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) on Thursday evening announced that Taiwan will in fact be among the countries receiving the first wave of vaccines from the World Health Organization’s COVAX platform after all.
On Wednesday (Feb. 3), health minister and CECC head Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) struck a pessimistic tone by predicting that Taiwan would likely not receive the first shipment of COVID-19 vaccines until June. On Thursday, news broke that Taiwan was not on the list of countries that will receive the first round of vaccines from COVAX.
However, later that evening, CECC spokesman Chuang Jen-hsiang (莊人祥) announced that although Taiwan is not on the official printed list, it is among five to eight other non-U.N. member states that have been allotted 1,303,200 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine. The CECC is actively in contact with COVAX for delivery and customs declaration information.
According to Chuang, the AstraZeneca vaccine is not currently on the WHO’s list for emergency use. However, he anticipates that it will receive approval later this month.
He said that once the vaccine is approved, it will be shipped to Taiwan at some point between this month and May. The vaccine can be administered one week after it arrives in Taiwan, according to Chuang.
He added that the 1.3 million doses will not be evenly divided between the five to eight non-U.N. member states but instead be based on population. He could not yet predict how many doses Taiwan would receive from this batch.
Chuang said that when the vaccines do arrive, frontline healthcare professionals in specific hospitals will be given top priority.