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WHO selects Taiwan's Medigen COVID-19 vaccine for international trial

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WHO selects Taiwan's Medigen COVID-19 vaccine for international trial

Taipei, Oct. 26 (CNA) A COVID-19 vaccine developed by Taiwan's Medigen Vaccine Biologics Corp. has been chosen to take part in an international clinical trial platform co-launched by the World Health Organization (WHO), according to a statement released by the organization Tuesday.

The Medigen COVID-19 vaccine, a protein subunit vaccine, the rollout of which started in Taiwan on Aug. 23, was chosen along with a DNA vaccine encoding the spike protein developed by American company Inovio Pharmaceuticals, for the Solidarity Trial Vaccines platform, the WHO said.

The platform is "designed to rapidly evaluate the efficacy and safety of promising new candidate vaccines selected by an independent vaccine prioritization advisory group composed of leading scientists and experts," the WHO said.

The two were chosen after an advisory group reviewed around 20 candidate vaccines, and two additional vaccines are expected to be chosen for the clinical trials co-sponsored by the WHO and the health ministries of Colombia, Mali and the Philippines, according to the WHO.

More could be added to the platform by the advisory group in late 2021 and during 2022, the WHO added.

Responding to the WHO statement, Medigen spokesman Leo Lee said the company is pleased about the news, and will continue with ongoing clinical trials, so its products can be approved internationally.

The inclusion of the Medigen and Inovio vaccines in the WHO project was first announced in September by the Colombian National Food and Drug Surveillance Institute.

At the time, the institute said 40,000 volunteers aged 16 and older in Colombia who live and or work in places with a high risk of coronavirus infection, such as healthcare and front-line workers were to be recruited for the trial, which would last about 15 months.

In Taiwan, 615,696 people have been fully inoculated with two doses of the Medigen vaccine as of Tuesday, including President Tsai Ing-wen and Vice President Lai Ching-te , shortly after it received an emergency use authorization from the Taiwan Food and Drug Administration on July 19, even though the company at that time had yet to conduct Phase 3 trials.

Among the 22,783,694 doses of COVID-19 vaccines administered since the rollout began on March 22, 1,369,639 doses, or about 6 percent, are the Medigen vaccine, according to data released by the Centers for Disease Control Tuesday.

On Oct. 20, Medigen said it was accelerating its Phase 3 clinical trial in Paraguay and expected results by the end of this year.

Earlier this month, New Zealand and Palau both announced plans to allow entry of fully vaccinated visitors to their countries, and the Medigen vaccine is on the list of vaccines the two countries recognize.

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