On September 14, The Institutional Review Board of National Taiwan University Hospital (IRB) passed a clinical trial of mixing Moderna and MVC vaccines, hoping to reduce the increasing numbers of infections in Taiwan. 

Unlike other countries that begin wide distribution of Covid boosters, Taiwan still confronts a serious vaccine shortage. Far from being fully vaccinated, over five million Taiwanese people can’t even get their first shots. 

According to Taiwan Health Minister Chen Shih-Chung, the clinical trial is currently under review by the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC). Chen believed it would work theoretically and launch as soon as next week if the procedure went well. 

“The clinical trial of mixed Covid-19 vaccine does not necessarily require overseas implementation experience. Otherwise, Taiwan will never be able to be at the forefront,” Chen said. “The most important purpose is to provide scientific evidence for expert evaluation.” 

But while Chen was optimistic about mixing vaccines, public opposition on this topic has grown. There are concerns about the feasibility of comparing the potency of antibodies in people who received two doses of Moderna to the standard of mixed vaccines. 

Ko Wen-Je, the mayor of Taipei City and former doctor at the National Taiwan University Hospital, noted that the decision exceeded the understanding of his medical training. 

“We have not yet completed the clinical trial of MVC in Phase III, and now we are mixing vaccines. I have no idea what phase this is,” Ko said.

Chong Inn-Wen, the Convener of Covid Vaccine Expert Meeting and Superintendent of Kaohsiung Medical University Hospital, noted there should be no problem with the safety of mixing vaccines. But unless the results prove that neutralizing antibodies are better than other combinations, it is not recommended to mix the two. 

“Taiwanese people would expect more from mixing Moderna and Pfizer, and some countries in Canada and the European Union have agreed to mix vaccines,” Chong said. 

The mixed vaccination program of MVC and Moderna will recruit 220 people aged 20 to 70 after the first dose of Moderna for eight to 12 weeks and randomly assign them to receive either MVC or Moderna vaccines in a double-blind manner. Initial reports are expected to be sent to the CECC in late October and early November.

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