Taiwan’s president has received the first dose of the island’s controversial, domestically produced coronavirus vaccine.
Tsai Ing-wen’s inoculation Monday initiated the public rollout of the vaccine.
The island’s medical and scientific communities, however, have expressed concerns about the vaccine produced by Taipei-based Medigen Vaccine Biologics Corporation because regulators did not give emergency approval.
Instead of using the results from long-term studies of the vaccine through rounds of clinical trials, regulators opted to compare the level of antibodies the Medigen vaccine produced against the antibodies produced by the AstraZeneca vaccine.
Several governments have approved the AstraZeneca vaccine, which has endured the extensive round of clinical trials usually associated with a vaccine’s approval.
Medigen has a year to submit efficacy data about the vaccine.
In New Zealand, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said Monday that the nationwide lockdown, imposed to slow the spread of the delta variant of the COVID-19 virus, will be extended until at least Friday. It had been set to end Tuesday.
The lockdown extension “will allow us to have additional data and see if the virus has spread," Ardern said.
Ardern’s announcement came after the country’s health department announced 35 new COVID-19 cases of the delta strain, bringing the total number of the country’s coronavirus cases since last week to 107.
Most of the cases have emerged in Auckland. Ardern said the lockdown there will continue to the end of the month. “We don’t want to take any risks with delta,” the prime minister said.
On Monday, China’s health department said it had no new locally transmitted cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, to report for the first time since July.
China imposed restrictions nationwide after several airport workers in Nanjing were identified in July as having the highly contagious delta variant of the coronavirus.
In Indonesia, a Jakarta official said Sunday that the capital had reached herd immunity against the COVID-19 virus pandemic, but an epidemiologist disputed that notion.
Deputy Jakarta governor Ahmad Rizia Patria said, "Jakarta has entered the green zone and has reached herd immunity,” referring to the sharp decline in the city’s infection rate in recent weeks and the fact that more than 54% of the city’s residents are fully vaccinated.
However, University of Indonesia epidemiologist Pandu Riono told Reuters that Patria does not understand what herd immunity is, since vaccine efficacy levels are about 55%. “Even if we reach 100% vaccine coverage, the immunity level is still below 80%," Riono said.
Jakarta, with a population of about 10 million, has predominately used China’s Sinovac vaccine.
Indonesian President Joko Widodo is expected to announce Monday whether any lockdown restrictions will be relaxed.
Some information for this report came from The Associated Press, Agence France-Presse and Reuters.