Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, few nations have been lauded as much for their management of the disease as Taiwan has. Since the first cases of COVID-19 in the country were reported in February 2020, only 16,313 infections and 846 deaths have been recorded. Despite how successfully the nation had managed the outbreak, it still enrolled itself in the World Health Organization-led COVAX exchange program and began its first wave of vaccinations on March 22, 2021. While the nation hadn’t had even a dozen deaths attributed to COVID-19 by the time the first vaccine was administered, 836 of the 846 deaths attributed to COVID-19 have occurred since the vaccination program began. In an even more dubious display concerning the safety and effectiveness of the vaccines administered in Taiwan, the nation’s Central Epidemic Command Center (“CECC”) has stated that 850 deaths have been reported as adverse events following vaccinations. That total eclipses the number of fatalities attributed to the virus itself.
Taiwan’s vaccination campaign began much later than many other nations, a lag which many blame on political interference from China which was best illustrated by the island nation’s difficulties procuring orders of Pfizer-BioNTech’s mRNA vaccines. Despite these hurdles, the country was able to first able to procure 117,000 doses of AstraZeneca’s vaccines. Additional deliveries of 200,000 and 400,000 doses from the same manufacturer arrived the following two months before another 150,000 vaccines from Moderna were delivered in May 2021. It gave emergency approval to a domestically engineered alternative made by Medigen Vaccine Biologics Corporation with shipments from Pfizer-BioNTech and Johnson & Johnson soon following. As of October 11, 4.48 million Taiwanese, about 19% of the population, have been fully vaccinated and 13.7 million, or about 59% of population, have received on dose. The country has stated that it seeks to have 70% of its population fully vaccinated.
Yet, by the time Taiwan had approved those five vaccines for emergency use, an alarming trend began appearing. The highest seven-day average of new cases of COVID-19 observed in Taiwan before its first vaccines were deployed was just 3. By May 28, 2021, that seven-day average exploded to 597. As the rest of the world grappled with an increase in cases despite the global advancement of vaccination efforts, most those countries had record their all-time highs for new cases and deaths before any vaccines were available. One exception to that rule was seen in Israel, where the record for a highest single-day case count was recorded following the beginning of the nation’s campaign to administer third doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines in the wake of concerns of the delta variant’s impact of the efficacy of vaccines. Yet, even though Israel did surpass its previous one-day high, the amount by which it exceeded that paled in comparison to Taiwan. The seven-day average in Taiwan would not fall under 10 new cases again until September 2021. Since then, despite the increase in vaccinations, that national average has never managed to reach its pre-vaccination levels. The lowest seven-day average Taiwan has seen since it began vaccinating its citizens was recorded at 5 on September 5, 2021.
While the increase in viral transmission since March will likely be attributed to mutations like the delta variant, it could also be indicative of the antibody dependent enhancement onset from vaccines that has been forewarned about by scientists and physicians such as Dr. Robert Malone, one of the scientists behind the development of mRNA technology. Though not all vaccines used in Taiwan utilize mRNA technology, the viral vector-based vaccines like AstraZeneca’s still predicate their promotion of antibodies by exposing the immune system of vaccinated patients to the spike protein of SARS-CoV-2. Antibodies based on the genetic fragment of the spike protein alone opposed to a whole genetic sequence of a viral particle are suspected to be less capable of warding off infection. Scientists like Dr. Michael Yeadon, formerly of Pfizer, attest that these inadequate antibodies actually facilitate viral entry because they don’t possess the necessary protein structures, or paratopes, to the corresponding protein structures on the viral particles, called epitopes. This phenomenon was observed in clinical trials of mRNA vaccines aimed at combating the coronavirus which caused Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome. Advocates of that theory warning against that risk have expressed concerns that this same outcome of the potential deficiencies in COVID-19 vaccines has been overlooked by a hurried regulatory process.
As far as the 850 deaths reported to the Taiwanese CECC following vaccinations are concerned, 643 have been attributed to patients receiving AstraZeneca doses, 183 received Moderna doses, and just 22 received Taiwan’s own Medigen vaccine. Despite being recorded as adverse events following vaccination, many Taiwanese officials have responded to the CECC report by stating that these deaths may not be inherently due to the vaccines. The CECC has previously affirmed its position that reactions from the Moderna vaccine have resulted in fatal adverse events. As the seven-day average of COVID-19 deaths continues to hover between 0 and 1 as it has over the last several weeks, it’s possible that deaths reported to the Taiwanese CECC following vaccination will continue to exceed those attributed to viral infection for some time.