Taiwan has begun rolling out its first domestically developed Covid-19 vaccine although its clinical trials are yet to be completed. Its Medigen vaccine, made by Medigen Vaccine Biologics Corp was granted emergency approvals by regulators last month. At the time of the approval, the company has yet to complete phase three trials.
According to the company, it said that there were no major safety concerns. And studies have shown that antibodies created were ‘no worse than’ those created by AstraZeneca’s vaccine. Medigen, whose Chinese name literally means “high-end”, is a recombinant protein vaccine, similar to the vaccine developed by Novavax. The Novavax jab uses a more traditional method of recreating part of the spike protein of the virus to stimulate the immune system.
Medigen’s Chief Executive Officer Charles Chen told Reuters that they have done so many experiments and everyone has seen how ‘safe’ their vaccine is. “There are so few side effects, almost no fever and so on. So, I think everyone can rest assured,” he said.
However, its rollout has been shrouded in multiple accusations, saying that the vaccine is unsafe or that its entry into the market was rushed. The accusations are mainly voiced by the opposition party, the Kuomintang (KMT).
Two key members of the party has approached a court to revoke the emergency use approval due to insufficient testing. One of them said there is no need for Taiwanese people to be treated as “white rats in a laboratory”.
Taiwan has been using Moderna and AstraZeneca vaccines, but President Tsai Ing-Wen hold off receiving her shot until the Medigen jab was ready. On Monday, she finally received the jab. The process was streamed live on her Facebook page.
More than 700,000 people have signed up for the Medigen vaccine, which requires two doses 28 days apart. Taiwan was considered to be one of the most successful countries at controlling Covid-19, but an outbreak in May raised concerns about the arrival of the Delta variant.
Five million vaccine doses have been ordered; however, the government are not enforcing compulsory inoculation. Less than five percent of Taiwan’s 23.5 million population is fully vaccinated with around 40 percent having received just one dose.