Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen received a locally developed coronavirus vaccine at a hospital in Taipei on Monday as the self-governed island began rolling out the Medigen vaccine the same day.
By becoming the first to receive the jab, Tsai hopes to demonstrate that the new vaccine, developed by local vaccine maker Medigen Vaccine Biologics Corp., is effective and safe, in a bid to improve inoculation rates.
The rollout began as Taiwan struggles to secure vaccine doses from overseas.
Even though community cases began spreading on the island from mid-May in the latest wave, the government has since succeeded in curbing the virus's spread through strict measures including a total ban on restaurant dining.
But the government plans to continue enforcing the level-two COVID-19 alert, the third-highest of four levels, for the time being as the highly contagious Delta variant has spread abroad and the rate of vaccinations among the Taiwanese has been slow.
Roughly 40 percent of the population had received at least one dose of vaccine by Friday, according to the Health and Welfare Ministry. About 600,000 people have signed up to be inoculated with Medigen.