AstraZeneca jab shows 79% efficacy as vaccine rollout continues

23 March, 2021

Courtesy of ICRT and ECCT staff writers

The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) is continuing to administer the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine.

Premier Su Tseng-chang and Health Minister Chen Shih-chung were the first to receive their jabs yesterday morning.

Although the vaccination procedure was not open to reporters, the cabinet and the CECC have released video footage and photographs of Su and Chen receiving their shots.

Health officials say 58 hospitals were initially allocated doses of the vaccine and are now inoculating front line medical personnel, while more doses will be shipped to more hospitals today, bringing the total number of hospitals carrying the vaccine to 72.

However, the CECC says there is currently no timetable for when the next batch of coronavirus vaccines will arrive in Taiwan and it is currently not known when the government will sign purchasing contracts with local vaccine manufacturers.

President Tsai Ing-wen and other high-ranking government officials did not receive a shot on the first day the vaccine was rolled out.

But the Presidential Office says Tsai and Vice President William Lai are willing to get vaccinated and an assessment will be made by Tsai's medical team and the CECC.

Taiwan’s vaccine rollout continues just as a news of a trial of the AstraZeneca vaccine (developed with Oxford university) in the United States has shown 79% efficacy at preventing symptomatic disease and 100% efficacy against severe or critical disease and hospitalisation.

The US trial found the vaccine was well tolerated, and there are no safety concerns related to the vaccine, including blood clotting problems, concerns over which had prompted several European countries to suspend use of the vaccine in recent days, although they have since resumed using the vaccine. AstraZeneca’s US trial involved 32,449 people.

The efficacy levels against symptomatic Covid-19 reported by Pfizer and Moderna are somewhat higher than for AstraZeneca, but direct comparisons between clinical trials of different vaccines could be misleading because each was carried out under slightly different conditions. For instance, a different mixture of Covid-19 variants was circulating in the US during the AstraZeneca trial, compared with the earlier Pfizer and Moderna trials.

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