Turning now to the COVID vaccination campaign. So far, nearly 1.62 million people have received at least one dose of a two-dose course. That''s about 7% of the population. The Central Epidemic Command Center aims to raise the vaccination rate to 15% of the population before the end of August.
Gotten vaccinated yet? The CECC has opened up vaccines to adults 75 and older, as well as pregnant women. To date, Taiwan has taken delivery of 1.96 million AstraZeneca doses and 2.89 million doses of Moderna. It’s administered about 1.62 million doses so far, leaving about 3.2 million doses. The government’s goal is to use them up by the end of August, so that 15% of the population has had at least one shot.
Voice of Huang Li-min
Infectious diseases expert
I think that we need at least 30%. Thirty percent is already setting the bar low. Coverage of 15.5% won’t have an obvious effect. So we should set a target of at least 30 to 40%, then see what the epidemic situation is at the time. And this is not an unattainable goal, because as a matter of fact, people are demonstrating a strong willingness to get vaccinated. Vaccine willingness is actually quite high.
Infectious diseases expert Huang Li-min thinks at least 30% of the population should receive one dose, before COVID restrictions can be safely lifted. With an eye on speeding up progress, the CECC plans to widen vaccine eligibility to the top nine priority groups, starting July 1. Recipients will be allowed to choose their brand of vaccine.
Vaccines will open up to nearly 2 million people in priority groups one to eight. The ninth priority group is people who have already received one vaccine dose. This group includes 41,000 people who had paid out of pocket for a shot earlier this year, and who will now be eligible for a free second dose. In related news, AstraZeneca has reported on a study done by the University of Oxford. It showed that AstraZeneca’s vaccine provides protection against the delta and kappa COVID variants first found in India. Researchers found that it was as effective against those variants, as it was against the alpha and gamma variants first identified in the U.K. and Brazil, respectively.
AstraZeneca is releasing this information to bolster public confidence, to bolster people’s confidence in its vaccine. Besides the South African variant, there are other variants that include ones found in India and Brazil. The protective effect of AZ against these strains is still acceptable, at around 60 to 70%.
Vaccine willingness remains high, and on Monday, more than 48,000 doses were administered nationwide. It’s not clear yet when the next overseas shipment will arrive. But the CECC is keen to maintain the momentum of the vaccine campaign.