Taiwanese-American congressman pleads for vaccines for Taiwan

05/29/2021 06:27 PM
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United States Representative Ted Lieu (劉雲平). Photo courtesy of Taiwan
United States Representative Ted Lieu (劉雲平). Photo courtesy of Taiwan's representative office in Los Angeles

Los Angeles, May 29 (CNA) United States Representative Ted Lieu (劉雲平), an immigrant from Taiwan, recently appealed to the American government to supply COVID-19 vaccines to Taiwan before its current outbreak of domestic infections gets out of control.

In a letter dated May 24, Lieu told Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Samantha Power, administrator of the United States Agency for International Development, that it is important to move quickly on the issue.

"While the surge in COVID-19 cases in Taiwan is troubling, it has not yet reached uncontrollable levels," Lieu wrote. "By letting Taiwan access the AstraZeneca vaccine immediately, there is the opportunity to contain the surge in Taiwan before it becomes a crisis. Time is of the essence."

Noting that the U.S. has an excess supply of AstraZeneca, he said Taiwan is willing to pay for any shipments of the COVID-19 vaccine it might receive, as indicated by Taiwan's representative to the U.S. Hsiao Bi-khim (蕭美琴) in April.

"The funds that Congress allocated to fight the pandemic globally can be multiplied by using funds from other countries," Lieu wrote. "In this case, Taiwan is willing to pay for the AstraZeneca vaccine in the possession of the U.S."

He was referring to the US$11 billion allocated by the U.S. Congress in the American Rescue Plan to help with the global response to the pandemic, which includes vaccine distribution.

Helping Taiwan will also be beneficial to the U.S. because in the case of global travel, the threat of the virus surging anywhere threatens the health of Americans, said Lieu, a Democrat who represents California's 33rd congressional district in the U.S. House of Representatives.

"I respectfully request that the U.S. provide Taiwan with the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine as soon as possible," he said in the letter, describing Taiwan as an "important ally" of the U.S.

On May 20, Lieu and other members of the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee, including Gerald Connolly, also wrote to Blinken, pleading for Taiwan's inclusion on the U.S.' priority list for vaccine distribution.

The need for vaccines has become urgent in Taiwan amid a domestic COVID-19 outbreak that started in mid-May and has since surged to more than 6,000 indigenous cases and over 82 deaths.

On Saturday, Taiwan reported 486 new domestic cases of COVID-19 and 21 deaths.

(By Lin Hung-han and Emerson Lim)

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