Taiwan is sparing no effort to pursue a deal with Moderna Inc. to manufacture its COVID-19 vaccine, Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (???) said Wednesday, while admitting that goal could be hard to achieve.
"We have a good relationship with the United States at present, and since there is mutual trust, of course we hope to be involved in frontend manufacturing (of the Moderna vaccine)," Chen said during a legislative session, when asked by an opposition lawmaker if Taiwan is vying for backend or frontend production of the Moderna vaccine.
Backend production refers to processes such as filling vials with the vaccine, and labeling, sealing, and packaging of vaccines, while frontend production refers to the actual production of the vaccine ingredients.
When pressed further on the possibility of Taiwan striking a deal with Moderna to manufacture its vaccine, Chen said only that "the U.S. is very protective of its mRNA vaccine technology."
He admitted that the possibility of Taiwan obtaining a deal to do backend production is "relatively higher" than a deal for frontend production, but even then, it would depend on Moderna's "global distribution plan."
At the same session, Liang Kung-yee (???), president of the National Health Research Institutes (NHRI), said the NHRI "has been in regular contact with Moderna" about opportunities to manufacture its COVID-19 vaccine.
The NHRI had initially been exploring cooperation possibilities with British-Swedish pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca plc. through the University of Oxford, by email or online meetings between July 20 and Aug. 11 last year, according to Chen.
At the time, Chen said, Taiwan had highlighted its interests in producing the drug substance of the Oxford/AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine by detailing the country's advantages in production technology and capacity.
However, bilateral talks came to an end later in the same year due to AstraZeneca's global market deployment and Taiwan's failure to meet its production demand.
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel