Academia Sinica scholar Chen Pei-jer has resigned from Taiwan''s COVID-19 vaccine review committee, reviving the controversy over domestic vaccine candidates. In an exclusive interview with FTV Vice President Hu Wan-ling, former Vice President Chen Chien-jen threw his support behind local vaccines, saying both he and his wife participated in their human trials. He emphasized that locally made vaccines must show that they meet international standards when seeking emergency use approval from Taiwan authorities.

Back in February, front-line medical staff and members of the public rolled up their sleeves to volunteer as Phase II test subjects for the vaccine candidates developed by Taiwan’s Medigen and United Biomedical.

Former Vice President Chen Chien-jen, who is an epidemiologist by training, revealed that both he and his wife had volunteered for Medigen’s vaccine trial. The former vice president says he’s confident the vaccine will succeed.

Chen Chien-jen
Former vice president
Protein subunit vaccines are very simple. They are one of the most commonly used vaccine platforms. They come with fewer adverse effects. In the development process, these pharma companies have to be able to show that all the steps and all the processes were sound. They have to show that they met international standards when applying for emergency use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration.

The former vice president publicly backed Taiwan’s locally developed vaccines, which have come under a storm of aspersions. On Monday, Academia Sinica scholar Chen Pei-jer made waves when he announced his resignation from Taiwan’s COVID vaccine review committee. He said that a U.S. biotech company, Novavax, has also been developing a protein subunit vaccine, but has been unable to get approval based on international standards. He said it was unlikely that Taiwan’s vaccine would be approved for emergency use by the end of July if health authorities applied international standards.

United Biomedical says it’s developing its vaccine candidate in collaboration with the U.S. It also gave an update on its progress.

Wang Chang-yi
United Biomedical founder
Very early on, our teams, especially the Vaxxinity team in the U.S., entered talks with the governments of India and Brazil. Of course, we can only launch Phase III trials there after Phase II trials have reached a certain degree of completion. On May 28, we sent our latest documents over and they were accepted.

United Biomedical expects Phase II trial results to be compiled in mid-June, with unblinding to be completed in late June. If the unblinding process goes smoothly, the company may be able to obtain EUA in Taiwan in July and move forward with Phase III trials in India.