Taiwan says first batch of Covax vaccines to arrive on April 4

Taiwan will get slightly more than one million AstraZeneca shots in total via Covax.
Taiwan will get slightly more than one million AstraZeneca shots in total via Covax.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

TAIPEI (REUTERS) - Taiwan's first batch of Covid-19 vaccines via the global initiative Covax will arrive on the island on Sunday (April 4), almost 200,000 doses of the AstraZeneca shot, Health Minister Chen Shih-chung said on Saturday.

Taiwan, which has kept the pandemic under control thanks to early and effective prevention, began its vaccination campaign only last month - also with AstraZeneca shots - after getting 117,000 doses directly from the drug-maker.

Dr Chen told reporters that the latest vaccines were also manufactured in South Korea and had been due to start arriving from February, but had been held up by global vaccine supply problems.

Taiwan will get slightly more than one million AstraZeneca shots in total via Covax, he added.

In separate, direct deals with vaccine developers, the country has agreed to buy 10 million shots from AstraZeneca and five million doses from US drug-maker Moderna Inc.

It is also hoping to roll out domestically developed vaccines from the middle of this year.

Taiwan, which has imposed tough border controls and quarantine measures to fight the pandemic, has reported 1,046 Covid-19 cases in total, with 10 deaths. It currently only has 43 active cases being treated in hospital.

While Taiwan has been keen to start vaccinations, government officials have said that with such a low rate of infection, there was not the same urgency to getting the shots as other countries with a far higher toll.

Health workers are getting vaccinated first.