Taiwan accelerates coronavirus vaccination research

The government is accelerating research and innovation on a Taiwan-developed vaccination for the new coronavirus, according to National Health Research Institutes under the Ministry of Health and Welfare Feb. 7.

NHRI, headquartered in northern Taiwan’s Miaoli County, immediately initiated R&D cooperation with the country’s suppliers of biological agents following first reports of the virus in the Chinese city of Wuhan late last year. It is currently testing more than 96,000 pharmaceuticals and botanicals to identify substances capable of inhibiting the virus—a critical step in producing a cure.

A peptide vaccine is expected to be ready in three months, NHRI said, adding that a recombinant subunit variant and two others comprising DNA and rearranged genomes are in the pipeline. Once requisite processing technology is in place, preclinical and human trials are expected to commence in the second half of the year.

NHRI’s progress coincides with the decision of the World Health Organization to invite medical experts and officials from Taiwan to participate online in a global forum on the virus. Scheduled for Feb. 11-12 in Geneva, the event is set to play a key role in strengthening related R&D while helping identify knowledge gaps.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Feb. 9 that it welcomed the WHO’s move, and will continue seeking meaningful participation for the country in the activities, mechanisms and meetings of the U.N. specialized agency so as to show the many ways Taiwan Can Help realize Health for All.

According to Central Epidemic Command Center under the MOHW’s Centers for Disease Control, 18 cases of the virus were confirmed in Taiwan as of Feb. 10. A total of 40,171 cases have been identified in China, with 360 reported in 26 other countries and territories.