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CORONAVIRUS/Taiwan confirms Philippines did not seek COVID-19 vaccine

2021-06-17
Focus Taiwan
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The Philippines begins its COVID-19 vaccine rollout in March. CNA photo March 1, 2021
The Philippines begins its COVID-19 vaccine rollout in March. CNA photo March 1, 2021

Taipei, June 15 (CNA) Taiwan's Presidential Office confirmed on Tuesday that the Philippine government has not made any request regarding Taiwan's as yet unauthorized indigenous COVID-19 vaccines.

Presidential Office spokesman Xavier Chang told reporters in the evening that Taiwan's Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have clarified that neither agency claimed the Philippine government had sent a letter to Taiwan.

The Philippine government did not request assistance from Taiwan regarding COVID-19 vaccines, Chang said, adding that his office has asked relevant media outlets to correct their erroneous reports.

Chang's comments came after a media report in Taiwan earlier in the day, which said the Philippines' FDA had written to Taiwan's authorities, stating its willingness to allow Taiwan's locally-developed COVID-19 vaccines to be used in the Philippines once they receive Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) in Taiwan.

That report was picked up by Philippine media, prompting the Philippine Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque to issue a denial.

"I deny that," said Harry Roque, according to the Manila-based ABS-CBN News.

Philippine vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. also said the Philippines is not trying to get more COVID-19 inoculants from Taiwan, ABS-CBN News added.

At least two Taiwanese biotechnology firms are expected to roll out their vaccines in the coming months.

However, neither vaccine has started Phase 3 clinical trials yet, raising concerns in the minds of some Taiwanese as to their effectiveness and whether they will be accepted internationally.

According to foreign reports, the United States FDA said in late-May that it may decline to review and process new EUA requests for COVID-19 vaccines for the rest of the pandemic, if a company has not started relevant discussions.

Health Minister Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), for his part, said during a press conference in the afternoon that no Taiwanese vaccines have been granted an EUA by Taiwan's FDA at the moment.

However, he claimed that despite this, some countries are still showing "major interest" in those vaccines.

Meanwhile, a source familiar with the matter told CNA that one of Taiwan's vaccine manufacturers did contact the Philippine FDA about six months ago, inquiring about holding its Phase 3 trials in the Southeast Asian country.

The letter mentioned by the Taiwanese media was likely lifted from previous communications between the two sides, which only involved initial inquiries and did not reach higher authorities in Manila, the source said.

The source added that the Philippine side has told the Taiwanese vaccine manufacturer that Manila would only consider its EUA application if its vaccine obtains EUA status in Taiwan.

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