Taiwan Domestic Vaccinations Begin
The first batch of vaccines to be delivered to Taiwan arrived on March 3. According to the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC), the 117,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses manufactured by AstraZeneca will be offered to groups of individuals prioritized for vaccination by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP). Top priority is being given to medical personnel.
However, concerns over the AstraZeneca vaccine’s effectiveness and safety threatened to derail the effort to inoculate one of Taiwan’s most vulnerable groups against the novel coronavirus. The issue was raised after reports that some individuals in other countries had suffered from blood clots after receiving the vaccine. A survey conducted by the CECC in mid-March found that only a third of medical workers at hospitals treating COVID-19 patients were willing to take the vaccine.
Nevertheless, when the vaccine was rolled out a week later, over 3,000 people in the ACIP’s highest priority group received jabs. CECC Commander Chen Shih-chung and Premier Su Tseng-chang were the first people in Taiwan to receive the AstraZeneca vaccine, in part to encourage others to follow suit.
Jet Crash Raises Military Concerns
The fatal collision of two F5-E fighter jets last month – the latest of five such crashes over the past two years – raised further concerns about the military’s handling of investigations related to such incidents. A report provided by the Ministry of National Defense (MND) to the Legislative Yuan stated that the military had failed to learn from the earlier crashes. Altogether the crashes have claimed the lives of 12 airmen, with two others remaining missing.
The most recent incident occurred during a routine training mission off the coast of Pingtung County. It is believed that the two jets crashed during a change in formation. While one of the pilots, Lieutenant Luo Shang-hua, was found and later pronounced dead at the hospital, a search mission continued to look for the other pilot, Captain Pan Ying-chun. Following the crash, the MND grounded its remaining F5-Es, which will remain under inspection until early April.