CORONAVIRUS/Taiwan gives Hon Hai, TSMC formal go-ahead on vaccine purchases

06/26/2021 03:29 PM
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Photo from BioNTech
Photo from BioNTech's Twitter page

Taipei, June 26 (CNA) Taiwan's government has formally agreed to allow two of the country's top technology firms to represent it in negotiations to purchase up to 10 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine.

In a statement Saturday morning, Cabinet spokesman Lo Ping-cheng (羅秉成) said the government had signed legal agreements on Friday with Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC) and Hon Hai Precision Industry Co.'s YongLin Charity and Education Foundation, setting out the terms and conditions for the procurement process.

The sides reached the deal one week after Taiwan announced that it would authorize the two companies to purchase up to 5 million doses each of the BNT vaccine from Germany, and then donate them to the government upon delivery to Taiwan.

Prior to the announcement, Hon Hai founder Terry Gou (郭台銘) had accused the government of dragging its feet on deciding whether to let him buy 5 million doses of the BNT vaccine privately to ease the country's vaccine shortage, which became more urgent after a domestic COVID-19 outbreak that began in mid-May.

Despite the formal authorization, it remains unclear whether either will be successful in obtaining the vaccines.

Taiwan's government has said it was close to securing 5 million vaccine doses from BNT earlier this year, but blamed Beijing for "interfering" and causing the deal to fall through.

Taiwan has signed contracts to purchase nearly 20 million vaccines from abroad, including 5.05 million doses of Moderna, 10 million doses of AstraZeneca, and 4.76 million of unspecified brands through COVAX program.

Only about 1.1 million of those doses have been delivered to date, but Taiwan has also received donations of 2.5 million doses of the Moderna vaccine from the United States and 1.24 million doses of the AZ vaccine from Japan.

The government has also signed contracts to buy 10 million doses of vaccines from two Taiwanese manufacturers.

As of Friday, just over 1.8 million people had received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine in Taiwan, out of a population of 23.5 million. 

(By Lai Yu-chen and Matthew Mazzetta)

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Note: Taiwan began rollout of its COVID-19 vaccination program on March 22.
Note: Taiwan began rollout of its COVID-19 vaccination program on March 22.
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