One new imported case of the new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) was confirmed in Taiwan on Wednesday, bringing the total to 439.
Vaccine maker Adimmune Corp (國光生技) yesterday said it plans to start phase I clinical trials of its COVID-19 vaccine candidate in August.
They plan to commence phase II and phase III trials in the first quarter next year.
It effectively inhibited the growth of the novel coronavirus in preliminary animal tests last month.
The company’s goal is to start mass production of the vaccines in December if it gains approval of an emergency use authorization by the Taiwanese regulators, before gaining marketing approval next year.
In other words, if the trials are going well, they’ll start manufacturing it, so once it gets approval they can get a head start on getting it out to the public.
Meanwhile, to help combat discrimination against foreigners, Chen Shih-chung, head of the Central Epidemic Epidemic Command Center made a statement saying that the virus does not distinguish between different kinds of people.
The epidemic should not cause person-to-person confrontation.
It would be better for everyone to have a little empathy.
Han recall vote heats up with accusations of meddline
The Central Election Commission (CEC) yesterday announced that nearly 90 percent of the space needed to hold a vote on whether to recall Kaohsiung Mayor Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜) has been secured, after city agencies limited voting space.
Some stopgap measures include voting tents set up in parking lots and parks.
The Kaohsiung Education Bureau and Kaohsiung Civil Affairs Bureau previously said that they would limit space in schools and temples to be used for the vote, citing COVID-19 prevention measures.
The Kaohsiung Transportation Bureau has also allegedly been pressuring advertising companies not to place advertisements for the recall campaign on public buses, while advertisements praising Han for being a mayor with integrity are still in place
Those decisions by the local Kaohsiung authorities, along with accusations of selectively targeting pro-recall outdoor advertisements to be torn down has led to widespread accusations they are attempting to interfere with the recall vote on behalf of Han.
Is Johnny Chiang targeting the Huang Fuhsing?
Deep-blue newspaper China Times is claiming that KMT Chairman Johnny Chiang is working to reduce the power of the Huang Fuhsing.
The Huang Fuhsing is a sort of separate power block within the KMT, and represents military veterans.
They have traditionally been very influential, and very conversative and pro-Chinese unification.
According to the report, Chiang has replaced 90% of party cadres.
Chiang campaigned on party reform, with the goals of regaining public support and winning back the youth vote.
To do so, he has said the party needs to come to a new consensus on China policy closer to the Taiwan mainstream.
If he is indeed moving to limit the power of the Huang Fuhsing, that could give him more room to maneuver on the issue.
Gas hack may actually have been political
Security officials suspect that recent cyberattacks on petrochemical companies in Taiwan could be linked to President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) second-term inauguration on May 20.
Just yesterday it was reported that the attacks were ransomware, which suggested a financial motive.
The Taipei Times is reporting an official involved in national security, who asked not to be named because the individual is not authorized to speak to the media, suggested Wednesday that these cyberattacks could be “trial runs” before the start of Tsai’s second term on May 20.
In related news, President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) second inauguration ceremony on May 20 will be streamlined amid ongoing efforts to combat the coronavirus.
Petition to allow same-sex marriages to foreigners from non-legal countries gains steam
The Taiwan Alliance to Promote Civil Partnership Rights has launched a petition in support of same-sex marriage between Taiwanese and foreign nationals from countries where same-sex marriage is not legal.
That restriction, plus limiting adoption policies, mean that so-called “marriage equality” in Taiwan is not yet fully equal.
Nearly 10,000 people have signed the online petition since it was launched on April 1, the alliance said.
To garner more support, the alliance will be collecting signatures in person in Taipei, Taoyuan, Hsinchu and Kaohsiung, and Miaoli, Chiayi and Hualien counties on Saturday.
DPP proposes to drop committee to run museum in China
Two DPP lawmakers have proposed a bill to abolish the National Father’s Mausoleum Management Committee under the Presidential Office.
The legislators said they are proposing abolishing the committee, as it is no longer possible for the government to manage the Sun Yat-sen (孫逸仙) Mausoleum in Nanjing, China.
It originally was established in 1929, when the ROC was still in China.
The committee, although included in the ROC Office of the President Organization Act in 1948, was never given funding, nor has it had any personnel ever assigned to it.
While Taiwan has been ever so slowly removing these vestiges of KMT’s rule in China, the pace has been glacial and many remain.
One big question is whether President Tsai will accelerate this process in her second term.
Pressure increasing on the WHO
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) on Tuesday (May 5) said that only Taiwan has the legal authority to represent itself and that the World Health Organization (WHO) should “free itself” from Beijing’s control as member countries decide whether to include Taiwan.
MOFA also reiterated that U.N. General Assembly Resolution 2758 and WHA Resolution 25.1 only deal with the issue of “Chinese representation” and do not touch on Taiwan.
MOFA also stated that China “has no right to represent the 23 million people of Taiwan in international organizations.”
Meanwhile, five of Taiwan’s diplomatic allies have put forth a proposal for the issue of Taiwan’s exclusion from the World Health Organization (WHO) to be put on the agenda for discussion by its decision-making body later this month.
The proposal was made in letters sent separately between April 21 and May 5 to WHO Director-General Tedros by the governments of Nicaragua, Palau, Eswatini, Saint Lucia and the Marshall Islands.
All five diplomatically recognize Taiwan.
In related news, New Zealand has come out formally in support of Taiwan’s inclusion.
They join a growing list of countries, which includes Australia and the United States.
It is growing ever more likely that there is going to be a big showdown over the issue at the upcoming World Health Assembly.
This will provide a picture of where Taiwan stands in the world and China’s level of support internationally.
It will be very interesting to see which countries vote in support of Taiwan and which countries bow to China.
Image courtesy of the United Nations International Days Facebook page.