Taiwan started administering its first locally developed Covid-19 vaccine on Monday after months of fighting to get sufficient doses from major foreign vaccine makers.
President Tsai Ing-wen received an injection of the domestically made vaccine at a hospital in the capital Taipei, personally reassuring her of its safety.
“It didn’t hurt,” Ms Tsai wrote in a Facebook post. “Now I am in a good mood and I will continue my daily work.”
The vaccine, developed by Taiwan-based company Medigen, was approved for emergency use in late July. But critics say they are concerned that the vaccine, which has completed phase 2 trials, will be used before its effectiveness and safety are proven.
Two politicians from the island’s main opposition party, Kuomintang, recently filed a complaint with a local court to suspend the emergency clearance, citing concerns over vaccine safety. The court rejected their request last week.
Taiwan, where fewer than 10 locally transmitted cases are reported every day, has favored a less heavy-handed approach to the virus than neighboring mainland China. Since an outbreak that began in May, the government has introduced a series of measures to promote vaccination and receive dose donations from the United States and Japan, among others.
Vaccination rates on the island have risen significantly in recent months. As of Monday, about 40 percent of residents had received at least one dose. But only about 3 percent are fully vaccinated. Taiwan has recorded a total of 15,926 cases of the virus and 828 deaths, according to a NewsMadura database.
According to government data, nearly 600,000 of Taiwan’s 23.5 million residents have registered to receive Medigen injections.