by Brian Hioe

Photo Credit: MiNe/WikiCommons/CC

FOUR DOMESTIC CASES and fourteen imported cases were announced by the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) at its daily press conference today. Two of these cases were already in quarantine, while two cases have an unknown source of infection. Two cases were in Taipei and two cases were in New Taipei. Zero deaths were announced. 

90% of cases to date have been released from quarantine. Of the imported cases from today, nine were from Myanmar, two each from the US and UK, and one each from Australia and Austria. The nine cases from Myanmar were taishang that normally live there, but were returning to the country. Four had been vaccinated, though only two had reached the full fourteen days after vaccination. While the results of testing for variants is announced every Friday, three variant cases have already been found, and the relevant cities where these cases are being quarantined have been notified. 

Information on the new cases today (left), on the imported cases reported today (center), and further data released by the CECC (right). Photo credit: Ministry of Health and Welfare/Facebook

Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung emphasized during the press conference today that the currently available vaccines in Taiwan do not contain pork and so should not create issues for religious dietary concerns. 

Taiwan has reached 39.21% coverage for vaccination currently, which is 42.13 per 100 people. 49,152 were vaccinated yesterday. 

Over 390,000 have registered appointments to be vaccinated with Medigen. Chen urged those who have not yet made their appointments for vaccination to go and do so, since appointments can be made until tomorrow. 

Two cases have been found in the Taipower Building, one of which was detected in the past day. The building has undergone disinfection and 30 have been quarantined. Measures are stricter for dealing with the few cases that occur in Taiwan now, but there is concern about insufficient measures. 

To deal with imported cases, individuals with symptoms are PCR tested at the airport. Those without symptoms are tested at the quarantine hotel. If they test positive, they are immediately sent to the hospital. 

A number of questions today at the daily press conference centered around the Food and Drug Administration’s decision to refuse an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for domestically developed United Biomedical vaccines. United Biomedical has sought to appeal this decision and provided the necessary documentation. That being said, there are no plans to publicize the records of the oversight meeting for the vaccine or what the statistics for the decrease in efficacy when dealing with the Delta variant are because the EUA did not pass, unless United Biomedical is willing to publicize this themselves. 

United Biomedical will pursue Phase Three trials abroad. It may be difficult for United Biomedical to pursue use in Taiwan afterward, but scientific consensus will be needed for this. 

When asked about Medigen vaccines having an unclear date of providing efficacy, Chen stressed that this is true of all currently available vaccines. As Medigen vaccines showed different efficacy in different trials conducted at different times, Chen stated that this was normal, since it is not possible to fully replicate conditions. 

Mixed vaccinations are not approved for Johnson and Johnson vaccines, because they are not approved for use in Taiwan currently. Medigen vaccines are also not included in mixed vaccinations yet, because EUA for them was recent and more data is needed. Experts have not taken the view that mRNA vaccines can be mixed. 

BioNTech vaccines will be incorporated into the vaccine registration system when they arrive in Taiwan. Mixed vaccination standards will be set then as well. 

The number of individuals only willing to be vaccinated with Moderna has decreased from four million, with some vaccinated in the last round of vaccinations. Moderna vaccines are available for those over 53, while individuals of any age in category nine can be vaccinated with AstraZeneca or Medigen. 

According to New Taipei mayor Hou You-yi, one of the two cases in New Taipei today was already in quarantine, with the case that was not being in Banqiao. All contacts so far have tested negative. 

Information on the ingredients of currently available vaccines in Taiwan. Photo credit: Ministry of Health and Welfare/Facebook

As Taipei plans to reopen exercise facilities on August 24th, New Taipei will coordinate with Taipei in how it does this. Inspections of crane claw machine stores regarding their implementation of COVID-19 measures will be conducted by the New Taipei city government. Hou also called for the vaccine approval process to offer clearer indication of how Taiwanese vaccines will win international approval, in order that they do not affect the ability of Taiwanese to travel. 

There are plans to roll out a digital platform for proof of vaccination. A meeting of experts was convened yesterday, though the CECC has not reached a decision on what to call this platform. The CECC will wait until vaccination coverage is higher, with vaccination coverage still beneath 50% at present in Taiwan. When asked if individuals returning from Palau will have vaccine passports, the CECC responded that vaccine passports have not been rolled out yet. 

Chen believes that more vaccines will arrive in time. The CECC does not rule out making more vaccine purchases next year, though Taiwan has already purchased an ample supply of Moderna. 

The distribution of stimulus vouchers is planned for when the COVID-19 situation is more stable. 

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