Philippines denies seeking COVID-19 vaccines from Taiwan

Katrina Domingo and Jamaine Punzalan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 15 2021 11:50 AM

MANILA - The Philippines on Tuesday denied that it wrote a letter to Taiwan seeking for COVID-19 vaccines. 

Taiwanese media earlier reported that an official from Taiwan's Central Epidemic Command Center confirmed that the Philippines "sent a letter to us" seeking to adopt the emergency utilization authority of locally-produced COVID-19 jabs.

"I deny that," Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque told ABS-CBN News when asked to confirm the report.

Philippine vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. also denied that the country - which has been utilizing jabs from China, Russia, UK, and US - are trying to get more COVID-19 inoculants from Taiwan.

"I am not aware of asking for any donation particularly vaccines not recommended in our portfolio with Emergency Use Authorization from PH FDA (Food and Drug Administration)," he said.

ABS-CBN News also reached out to Health Secretary Francisco Duque III for comment, but the Department of Health chief was yet to respond.

Earlier this month, Taiwan's Medigen Vaccine Biologics Corp announced that it was seeking an emergency use authorization from the government for its COVID-19 vaccine candidate after safely completing phase II trials.

Developing its own vaccine has been a major goal of Taiwan's government, though it also has ordered some 20 million shots from Moderna Inc, AstraZeneca Plc and the COVAX global sharing scheme for lower income countries.

Only about 3 percent of Taiwan's 23.5 million people have received at least one shot, with further supplies held up by global production problems, as the island deals with a spike in domestic cases after months of relative safety.

- With a report from Reuters