As the vaccine roll-outs continue around the world, Taiwan’s domestically produced vaccine, Medigen (高端), is now facing the same major issue as the nation that created it, gaining international recognition.

At the end of October (October 26, 2021), the World Health Organization (WHO) announced that the Medigen vaccine had been approved, along with a DNA vaccine from American company Inovio. These two vaccines are slated to begin clinical trials in Colombia, Mali, and the Philippines, recruitment for the trials has already begun. The two vaccines were chosen from a group of about 20 other candidates. This is indicative of the Taiwanese vaccine’s growing recognition around the globe, slow as it may seem.

Taiwan’s vaccine has now been approved, or is up for approval, in numerous countries around the globe. Palau, one of Taiwan’s few remaining allies, has already approved the protein subunit vaccine. Another of Taiwan’s allies, Eswatini might also soon be taking in shipments of the vaccine, as Medigen has applied for an emergency use authorization (EUA) in the southeast African nation. New Zealand has also approved the vaccine for incoming travelers. Unfortunately some of Taiwan’s other “friends” have yet to approve it for use or travel. One glaring example of this is the United States.

The US has yet to approve the vaccine, even though it has already approved what seem to be less effective (based on current trials) Chinese vaccines like the Sinovac shot. While there is something to be said of waiting for Phase III testing, many other vaccines created by far less tested methods have been authorized in the US. The Lancet also showed, quite clearly, that the vaccine is safe for use, it actually has quite low levels of reactogenicity compared to other vaccines, and showed a 99 percent seroconversion rate. However, when Phase 3 data is realeased this may quickly change. These trials are currently ongoing in Paraguay and are expected to be published sometime around year’s end. If both the Phase 3 and WHO trials go well, it is likely that many countries will begin to accept the vaccine as a valid inoculation for entry business trips and vacationers, as well as to bypass other social barriers, such as vaccine mandates for certain occupations and events. This could also be another inroad for Taiwan to expand its influence and recognition around the globe, and equally important, for many to gain vital protections against the pandemic still ravaging the countless countries.

As many parts of the global south wait for more vaccines due to designed scarcity organized by the rapacious pharmaceutical industry and ghouls like William Henry Gates III, if Medigen gains approval it could be sent to many countries throughout the world. Just as Taiwan has done with its mask donations throughout the pandemic. This would not only be the right thing to do, it would be the politically intelligent move for the Tsai administration as well.

China, over the recent years, has been pursuing its Belt and Road Initiative, indebting poorer nations to the CCP through neocolonialism and getting these countries to essentially become their vassals in the international space. They even used these investments in such nations as a way to steal allies away from Taiwan, we can look to the recent example of Kiribati, though this heavy handed tactic may end up backfiring all on its own, again see Kiribati and also Samoa. As these nations wake up to the brutal reality of these coercive techniques, Taiwan may have potential inroads to creating new allies through vaccine diplomacy.

If the Medigen vaccine trials go well, whether or not to accept the Taiwanese vaccine will be quite a question for many countries to answer. Dozens of countries have approved the use of at least one of the Chinese vaccines, and the CCP revels in gloating that they are sending their vaccines to developing countries. However, many nations are now having second thoughts and are now phasing them out. Even nations that have pretty strong relationships with China are growing wary. One example of this is Singapore, which no longer even counts those vaccinated with Sinovac in their vaccination statistics. This could be a serious opening for Taiwan to fill this growing void.

The Medigen vaccine, like most of the vaccines being used in less economically developed countries, is able to be stored safely at relatively higher temperatures (2-8°C). This is very important for rural areas or those with lower access to cooling technology. It should also, at least theoretically, be easier to reproduce in other countries being that it is a protein subunit vaccine as opposed to using the much newer mRNA technology. These factors may lend themselves to the wide distribution of the Medigen vaccine in the future.

This all depends on the effectiveness found in the vaccine of course, but if the vaccine maintains similar numbers to those previously found in Phase 2 testing, the Medigen vaccine could be a strong contender for a new alternative for many countries around the world, especially if it gains approval from the WHO (which would be quite interesting because the WHO still refuses to allow Taiwan to join because of Chinese influence). This would be yet another instance of Taiwan gaining a foothold in the international community through soft power. Only time will tell what happens with the Medigen vaccine, but as a terminally cynical individual I’m doing my best to have some hope.