CORONAVIRUS/Second batch of U.S.-donated Moderna doses arrives in Taiwan

A second batch of Moderna COVID-19 vaccine doses donated by the United States arrived in Taiwan Monday, with officials from both countries on hand to greet the shipment at Taoyuan International Airport.

Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (???) and American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) Director Sandra Oudkirk were both present for the 1:43 p.m. arrival of a China Airlines charter flight carrying 1.5 million doses manufactured by U.S.-based Moderna Inc.

After clearing customs, the vaccines will be transported to a designated cold chain warehouse for inspection. Should they pass the inspection, the doses will then be distributed to local governments for use ahead of their Jan. 29, 2022 expiration date.

A first batch of 2.5 million doses arrived in June, which, together with Monday's donation, brings the total number of U.S.-donated Moderna doses in Taiwan to 4 million.

"Taiwan sincerely thanks again for the assistance from the U.S. government and its people at a time when the global supply of COVID-19 vaccines remains acute, which will greatly help Taiwan speed up its second-dose inoculation rate," the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said in a statement.

Speaking at a news conference, CECC spokesperson Chuang Jen-hsiang (???) said the newly arrived Moderna doses would be used as second doses for recipients in the 14th round of nationwide vaccinations, which is likely to begin on Nov. 13 at the earliest.

Whether the vaccines will be used as first doses or open for a mix-and-match approach will require further assessment, Chuang said.

Under a 2020 memorandum of understanding (MOU) on health cooperation signed by Taiwan and the U.S., both countries will continue to deepen their collaboration in the field to jointly combat the COVID-19 pandemic, the CECC said.

Meanwhile, AIT, the de facto U.S. embassy in Taiwan, said in a statement that the United States partners closely with Taiwan on global health issues, and that collaboration has deepened throughout the pandemic.

"Taiwan provided vital support to the United States in the earliest days of the pandemic, offering PPE and other life-saving materials. The American people remain grateful for Taiwan's generosity and proud that we can reciprocate that kindness," AIT said.

"For the last few years, AIT and Taiwan have described our relationship as 'Real Friends, Real Progress,' and this donation is a concrete example of our deep and broad ties in trade and investment, security cooperation, people-to-people exchange, and shared democratic values."

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel