No major side effects reported on Day 2 of vaccine rollout

The AstraZeneca vaccine rollout continues across the country. Officials say 1,578 people were vaccinated on Monday, the first day of the program. No major side effects have been reported so far. In related news, AstraZeneca has released the results of a new U.S. trial on its vaccine, which found no increased risk of blood clots after inoculation. The fresh data also shows that the vaccine has a 100% efficacy rate at preventing severe disease and hospitalization.

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It’s Day 2 of COVID vaccinations in Taiwan. Linkou’s Chang Gung Memorial Hospital, which administered 150 shots on Monday, administered 400 more on Tuesday.

Chen Szu-yuan, Chang Gung Memorial Hospital Linkou doctor: I felt a sting, just like with any other injection. I didn’t feel anything special. It felt just like the flu shots we get every year.

Wu Hsiao-fan, Chang Gung Memorial Hospital nurse: Those who didn’t want to get the vaccine might see us getting our shots – the media reported on this a lot yesterday – so everyone may be more willing to get vaccinated.

A few health care workers developed a fever after getting the AstraZeneca shot.

Chiu Cheng-hsun, Chang Gung Memorial Hospital deputy superintendent: Our hospital has administered the vaccine to around 100 employees. They’ve mostly responded well, without any major side effects. A few people developed a fever or some pain, but it hasn’t affected their daily work.

The main concern surrounding the AstraZeneca vaccine is whether it causes blood clots. According to AstraZeneca’s trials in the U.S., the vaccine offers protection to all age groups and is 79% effective at preventing COVID-19 symptoms. The company also says the vaccine offers 100% protection against severe or critical disease and hospitalization. AstraZeneca says the independent data safety monitoring board found no increased risk of thrombosis among participants that had received the vaccine.

Huang Li-min, NTU Children Hospital chief: Clinical trials have their limitations. In Phase III clinical trials, say you get 20,000 participants. If the side effects have less than a 1-in-10,000 chance of developing, you might not see that in Phase III clinical trials. What we are most concerned about is severe side effects that have less than a 1-in-10,000 chance of appearing.

Meanwhile, trials are ongoing for domestic vaccines. Medigen and United Biomedical are in Phase II testing. If all goes smoothly and the vaccines reach Phase III, emergency use authorization could be granted as early as June or July, enabling mass production.

Huang Li-min, NTU Children Hospital chief: Those vaccines would be less competitive internationally. They would only be able to sell in Taiwan. It wouldn’t be easy to sell them abroad. After all, other companies have already completed Phase III, and their data is very clear. Our vaccines would only have completed Phase II at that point. And we would have only tested on several thousand people, whereas other companies have already tested them on tens of thousands. Many governments would rather buy vaccines that have completed Phase III clinical trials.

Local vaccine makers are still looking for people aged 65 and older to participate in Phase II trials. They’ve put out a call for volunteers willing to help get domestic vaccines made as early as June.