The first batch of 150,000 doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine is unloaded at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport yesterday.
Photo: Chu Pei-hsiung, Taipei Times
By Lin Chia-nan / Staff reporter
The government yesterday welcomed the arrival of 150,000 doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, the first batch of its order from the US pharmaceutical firm.
The batch, carried by a China Airlines Ltd （中華航空） cargo flight of Taiwan’s national carrier, arrived at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport at about 5pm, slightly later than the Central Epidemic Command Center’s （CECC） 3:50pm estimate given on Thursday night.
The flight departed from Luxembourg yesterday morning and stopped at Dubai before reaching Taiwan.
Prior to its arrival, many aviation enthusiasts on Facebook had posted images of flight trackers showing the plane crossing the airspace above India and Vietnam, avoiding China and Hong Kong, before finally landing in Taiwan.
“The American Institute in Taiwan [AIT] welcomes the arrival of the first batch of Moderna COVID-19 vaccines, the first American vaccine to arrive in Taiwan,” the AIT wrote on Facebook yesterday morning before its arrival, adding: “We continue to communicate with Taiwan at all levels on this urgent issue.”
The US’ de facto embassy has been criticized for not assisting Taiwan with vaccine acquisition, since outgoing AIT Director Brent Christensen on Wednesday said that Washington had yet to finalize its standards for distributing its stockpile of vaccines, adding that Taiwan’s infection numbers were among the lowest in the world.
Meanwhile, a Japanese ruling party committee on Taiwan relations yesterday said it would recommend that the government supply a portion of Japan’s AstraZeneca vaccine stock to Taiwan to help it tackle a surge in infections.
“We should provide Taiwan with vaccines as soon as possible,” the head of the Liberal Democratic Party’s policy group, Masahisa Sato, told a news briefing following the meeting.
The recommendation is to be included in a set of proposals the policy group would give to Japanese Minister of Foreign Affairs Toshimitsu Motegi.
“Taiwan has many friends in Japan doing their best to help Taiwan in various ways. If there is any good news, we will announce it after it is confirmed,” Presidential Office spokesman Xavier Chang （張惇涵） said.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs added that Taipei was seeking “like-minded countries to help obtain vaccines, and efforts have not ceased.”
In other news, in response to local government officials asking the central government to allow them to purchase vaccines independently through their own channels, the CECC yesterday released a set of requirements for applying to do so.
Local governments or businesses that intend to apply to import COVID-19 vaccines can ask pharmaceutical firms to submit vaccine rollout plans, instructions, storage and cooling logistics plans, manufacturing authorizations and documents that confirm a vaccine’s commercialization in other countries, the CECC said.
The applications would be reviewed by experts convened by the Food and Drug Administration, while use of the vaccines must abide by the CECC’s regulations, it added.
Additional reporting by Reuters
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