Deaths after Inoculation:Government and Medigen Must Provide Reasonable Explanation

United Daily News Editorial, August 27, 2021


The deaths of four young adults and many cases of adverse reactions occurred within three days after people were vaccinated with Taiwan’s indigenous Medigen vaccines for coronavirus (COVID-19). These incidents adversely affected the vaccination rate of people who had made appointments of vaccinations and opposition parties demanded the suspension of vaccinations of Medigen vaccines. The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) refused to suspend the vaccinations but further announced the appointments of the second doses of Medigen vaccines. The administration of President Tsai Ing-wen has wholeheartedly helped the development of Medigen vaccines and definitely will not admit errors and apologize because of several cases of failures. The Medigen vaccine is the first one in the world that obtained emergency use authorization (EUA) through the means of “immune-bridging”. To clear doubts and avoid citizens’ unnecessary loss of life, even if not suspending the vaccinations, at least the cause and effect of the incidents should be investigated by relevant experts.


The vaccinations of AstraZeneca vaccines and Moderna vaccines had also resulted in sudden deaths in Taiwan before; there were more than 500 deaths after people received AstraZeneca vaccines. But the case of Medigen vaccines is different. First, both the  AstraZeneca vaccines and the Moderna vaccines have gone through complete phases of experiments and were certified by the World Health Organization and many countries. The AstraZeneca vaccines are inexpensive and have been used on more than one billion people in over 172 countries. Second, the reason of high death rate of  AstraZeneca vaccinations in Taiwan was because people who received  AstraZeneca doses were very old seniors and their health conditions were more fragile. On the other hand, people who received Medigen vaccines were young adults, so the cases are not the same.


Furthermore, the rollout of Medigen vaccines were fixed by the Ministry of Health and Welfare (MOHW) three times and the EUA was granted under black box operations. The MOHW first used the unique “immune-bridging” technique; then the EUA was granted by anonymous examiners; and in the final production stage, some batches of doses were not numbered continuously but Taiwan’s Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved and sealed the vaccines. Each of the stages left marks of serious political manipulation and cast doubts on people’s mind. In each of the globally certified vaccines, 30,000 or 40,000 people had participated in the third phase of clinical experiments. The Medigen vaccines had undergone second phase of experiments with fewer than 4,000 participants. The use of the Medigen vaccines on hundreds of thousands of people has created doubts on their reliability and safety.


To step back and suppose that the technology for the research and development of Medigen vaccines was fine and could offer protection to people who receive them, but the negligence in the production and the recklessness of the government in the sealing process may cause unpredictable adverse effects. The recent cases of deaths and adverse reactions all concentrated in cities in northern Taiwan, so people doubted that the reason was the poor quality of specific batches of the Medigen vaccines. The MOHW should conduct serious investigation and publicize the results as soon as possible.


The above supposition is not without reasons. In July when Medigen Corporation enlarged the production from 2 liters to 50 liters, it was reported that 82 percent of the doses were rejected; this means that the Medigen Corporation could not maintain the stability and consistency of the vaccines in mass production. The same problems also happened to Novavax vaccines of the United States which used the same recombinant protein technology as Medigen vaccines. Novavax vaccines had shown 90.4 percent efficacy rate in the third phase of clinical experiments, but when the company applied for EUA to U.S. FDA, because the manufacturer could not maintain the quality in mass production, the U.S. FDA ordered the suspension of production and Novavax delayed the EUA application until October. To contrast the U.S. FDA’s strict supervision with Taiwan FDA’s fixings of Medigen vaccines, this is the difference between the “developed” country and the “developing” country. No wonder Minister Chen Shih-chung of the MOHW is indifferent to the four cases of deaths after the vaccinations of Medigen vaccines.


The government is responsible to forewarn and explain that vaccines made by different techniques may cause different reactions or illness. Before the vaccinations of the Medigen vaccines, the CECC had warned that the vaccines may cause high intraocular pressure or facial nerve palsy; when many people had adverse reactions after vaccinations in the first day, Minister Chen urged people with chronic diseases or unstable health conditions not to receive vaccinations. After cases of deaths occurred, Minister Chen attempted to cite the use of illicit drugs, obesity, or myocardial infarction to explain the cases. The families of the deceased did not accept the explanations. The government should ask experts to investigate the truth, including the fatal cases after receiving AstraZeneca vaccines, and make objective analyses and explanations.


In March, the government of Denmark suspended the vaccinations of AstraZeneca vaccines when two cases of blood clots with one death occurred. One month later, the Danish government stopped the vaccinations of AstraZeneca vaccines permanently. The case of Taiwan may not be comparable to that of Denmark, but it is absolutely clear whether a government takes the lives of its people seriously.



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