Taipei, Taiwan could buy the COVID-19 vaccine Oxford University is developing with British drugmaker AstraZeneca, a second vaccine showing promising results that the nation will be able to acquire through the COVAX allocation platform, a Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) official said Friday.
According to foreign wire reports, the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine shows an “encouraging” immune response in older adults, and 99 percent of the participants in the mid-term clinical trial developed antibodies after taking the shots.
The vaccine shows a strong immune response in individuals in their 60s and 70s, raising hopes that it can protect age groups most at risk from the virus, the BBC reported Thursday.
Asked if Taiwan can buy the vaccine, CECC spokesman Chuang Jen-hsiang (莊人祥) said the center started acquisition negotiations for the vaccine in August and September, but he declined to provide any further details.
Taiwan could buy the vaccine through COVAX, Chuang said, noting that Taiwan has also contacted the producer for talks on matters such as the volume of shots it plans to order and the timing of purchases.
He said the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine will be cheaper than the vaccine developed by Pfizer in collaboration with BioNTech SE (BNT) of Germany, and more convenient to ship because it can be stored at a temperature of 2-8 degrees Celsius.
The BNT vaccine, a mRNA vaccine, must be stored at incredibly low temperatures — as low as minus 80 degrees Celsius.
The CECC has budgeted NT$11.5 billion (US$403 million) for the purchase of 30 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine, which will be enough for the immunization of 15 million people, Chuang said.
COVAX is a global vaccine allocation plan, through which countries can sign up to purchase COVID-19 vaccines. The project aims to accelerate the development and manufacturing of vaccines, as well as guarantee fair and equitable access to the vaccines for all countries.
Taiwan joined COVAX on Sept. 18, although the government has not made public how many vaccine doses it plans to buy through the plan.