The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday confirmed a case of COVID-19 in a Filipino worker as Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, said that no one knows when effective vaccines would be available.
Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Deputy Director-General Chuang Jen-hsiang (莊人祥), who is also the CECC’s spokesman, said that the worker, in her 20s, arrived in Taiwan on Thursday last week.
She is the nation’s 499th confirmed COVID-19 case.
Photo: Lin Hui-chin, Taipei Times
She did not show symptoms when she arrived, but underwent a COVID-19 test at the airport and was quarantined at a centralized center, he said, adding that her test result came back positive yesterday.
Twelve passengers who sat near her on the flight to Taiwan have been placed under home isolation, he said.
She had come into close contact with 10 Taiwan-bound workers in the Philippines, Chuang said.
The CECC would contact Philippine authorities to identify the contacts and place them in isolation upon their arrival in Taiwan, Chuang added.
Among the nation’s confirmed cases, seven have died, 476 have been removed from isolation following treatment and 16 are still being isolated in hospitals, the CECC said.
Separately yesterday, Chen said that the COVID-19 Vaccine Global Access Facility (COVAX) platform, led by the WHO, aims to guarantee fair and equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines for every signatory country to help economically disadvantaged nations.
He made the remark on the sidelines of an event in Taipei celebrating the 25th anniversary of the National Health Insurance (NHI) program and having more than 5 million people subscribing to the NHI Administration’s My Health Bank service.
Chen on Saturday said that Taiwan would sign an agreement with COVAX to ensure that the nation would have the opportunity to purchase vaccines through the platform.
Local Chinese-language media on Sunday quoted former CDC director Su Ih-jen (蘇益仁) as saying that it might be too late to sign an agreement.
Chen yesterday said that “we have started negotiations at an early stage, and there is a deadline for joining the platform, so as long as the countries pay the upfront payment, the deadline should be the same for all countries.”
However, he said no one knows for certain when COVID-19 vaccines would be available, as the development process could be delayed if problems are discovered during trials, or if modifications must be made after trials are completed.
Chen was asked about a specialist’s remark that the government should focus investments on only one or two vaccine developers to accelerate the local development of COVID-19 vaccines.
Chen said that there are nine types of vaccines that have entered phase 3 clinical trials, but no one knows which would be the most effective, so the CECC thinks that it is too risky to put all the investment resources “in the same basket.”
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