CORONAVIRUS/U.S. to deliver 2.5 million doses of Moderna vaccine to Taiwan Sunday

06/19/2021 10:47 PM
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A China Airlines cargo plane lands at Memphis International Airport in Tennessee to pick up the COVID-19 vaccines donated to Taiwan on Saturday. Photo courtesy of Taiwan
A China Airlines cargo plane lands at Memphis International Airport in Tennessee to pick up the COVID-19 vaccines donated to Taiwan on Saturday. Photo courtesy of Taiwan's representative office in the United States

Taipei, June 19 (CAN) The American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) said Saturday that 2.5 million doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine will be delivered to Taiwan Sunday as a donation from the United States.

In a Facebook post, the AIT said the shipment will include the 750,000 doses announced by the U.S. on June 6, and an additional 1.75 million doses.

"The donation reflects our commitment to Taiwan as a trusted friend and a member of the international family of democracies," wrote the AIT, the de facto American embassy in Taiwan.

"Wheels up! Our donation of 2.5 million vaccine doses is on the way to Taiwan, whose health partnership with the U.S. helped save lives here and around the world. @StateDept is proud to support @POTUS' commitment to help the world defeat COVID-19," U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price tweeted.

On June 6, U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth announced upon her arrival in Taipei that her country would donate 750,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses to Taiwan, as part of its plan to share at least 80 million vaccines doses globally.

Taiwan is facing a vaccine shortage amid an outbreak of domestically transmitted COVID-19 infections, with only 6 percent of its 23 million population having received at least one shot.

Photo courtesy of Taiwan
Photo courtesy of Taiwan's representative office in the United States

President Tsai Ing-wen's (蔡英文) administration has accused Beijing of interfering with Taiwan's attempts to purchase vaccines from the German company BioNTech (BNT).

Taiwan's government reportedly was close to securing 5 million vaccine doses from BNT earlier this year, but the deal fell through due to BNT's refusal to sign the final contract, citing a "re-evaluation of global vaccine supply and adjusted timelines."

China has denied the accusations and has said Taiwan can obtain the BNT vaccines through Shanghai Fosun Pharmaceutical (Group) Co., the distributor of the BNT vaccine in the Greater China area.

On May 28, Taiwan received 150,000 Moderna doses, a fraction of its order for 5.05 million doses from the American company. It received a second shipment of the Moderna vaccine containing some 240,000 doses Friday.

About half of the total 20 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines ordered by Taiwan from abroad are the AstraZeneca brand, and delivery has been very slow.

Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Saturday thanked the United States for tripling its vaccine donation to Taiwan, saying that it shows the U.S.' firm support for Taiwan.

The ministry said Taiwan's Representative to the U.S. Hsiao Bi-khim (蕭美琴) had accepted the donation on behalf of the Taiwan government, at the Memphis airport in Tennessee, where the vaccines were loaded on a flight operated by Taiwan's China Airlines. The flight is expected to arrive in Taipei Sunday evening, the ministry said.

"The Taiwanese people are deeply moved and will not forget the timely support from democratic partners. Taiwan is committed to continuing to work side by side with the U.S. and partners around the world to contribute to global health," Taiwan's representative office in the United States said in a statement.

Photo courtesy of Taiwan
Photo courtesy of Taiwan's representative office in the United States

(By Chung Yuu-chen and Frances Huang)

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