TAIPAI, Taiwan (AP) – Two Taiwanese high-tech companies announced on Monday a donation of 10 million doses of anti-coronavirus vaccine made by Germany’s BioNTech to the island’s government, which faces political hurdles in fighting the pandemic.
In February, Taiwan’s health minister suggested that Beijing may have blocked an earlier purchase of the BioNTech vaccine from the island’s democracy, which the continent’s ruling Communist Party has never controlled, but said it was part of its territory. Chinese company Fosun Pharma owns distribution rights for BioNTech for Greater China, which Beijing says includes Taiwan.
Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Corp. and Hon Hai Precision Electronics said they purchased the vaccine through Fosun Pharma. TSMC said the doses would be sent from a factory in Germany directly to the Taiwanese disease control agency.
Taiwan is largely holding back the pandemic with strict quarantines, but is struggling to get vaccines for its 14 million people. 15,249 cases and 740 deaths were reported, according to COPID-19 at Johns Hopkins University.
TSMC is the largest contract for the production of processor chips for smartphones and computers. Hon Hai is the largest assembler of smartphones and other electronics for Apple and other brands. The Yongling Foundation for Charity and Social Assistance, the founder of Hon Hai, also contributed.
The vaccines “will give people in Taiwan less room to breathe and more confidence in fighting the pandemic,” Gow said in a statement.
Taiwan has been expelled from the World Health Organization due to Chinese pressure.
Health Minister Chen Shihchung said in a radio interview in February that BioNTech had stopped selling 5 million doses at the last minute due to “political pressure”, although it did not name the Chinese government. Chen said there was no evidence of what had happened.
Earlier, the Taiwanese government signed contracts to receive a total of 29 million doses of vaccines from foreign suppliers for its 14 million people. But due to supply delays and a global shortage, he had only 700,000 on hand when the number of cases rose in May.
Beijing has offered to donate vaccines made in China, but President Tsai Ying-wen’s government has dismissed this as a political ploy.
Taiwan received 2.5 million doses of Moderna vaccine from the US government in June and 1.1 million doses of AstraZeneca vaccine from the Japanese government this month. The island also bought 626,000 doses directly from AstraZeneca.
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