CORONAVIRUS/Taiwan open to providing local COVID vaccines to allies: MOFA

07/27/2021 07:53 PM
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The Ministry of Foreign Affairs. CNA file photo
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs. CNA file photo

Taipei, July 27 (CNA) Taiwan is open to the possibility of providing its locally-developed COVID-19 vaccines to diplomatic allies, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) said Tuesday.

In a press statement, MOFA said the government is considering the possibility amid the high expectations of some allies for Taiwanese vaccines and due to Beijing's continued attempts to damage Taiwan's relations with its diplomatic allies through "vaccine diplomacy."

However, the ministry denied that the government is trying to benefit any specific Taiwanese vaccine makers with the plan to provide vaccines overseas.

"MOFA is not helping any vaccine manufacturers sell their products," the ministry said.

It added that should Taiwan decide to provide vaccines to its diplomatic allies, the budget will come from MOFA's foreign assistance funds and not from the country's budget for vaccine procurement.

The MOFA statement came after Johnny Chiang (江啟臣), chairman of Taiwan's main opposition Kuomintang, accused the government of trying to help a particular Taiwanese vaccine maker "find a way out" for its COVID-19 vaccine.

At a press conference earlier the same day, Chiang said MOFA had sent letters to Taiwan's embassies in nine diplomatic allies in Latin America and the Caribbean, instructing them to inquire about the host country's willingness to accept Taiwan-made vaccines, and the terms and conditions of having their people inoculated.

The letters were dated July 20, one day after Taiwan granted emergency use authorization (EUA) to a COVID-19 vaccine developed by Taiwan-based Medigen Vaccine Biologics Corp., according to Chiang.

KMT Chairman Johnny Chiang (center right) speaks at a press conference Tuesday. CNA photo July 27, 2021
KMT Chairman Johnny Chiang (center right) speaks at a press conference Tuesday. CNA photo July 27, 2021

The government's granting of EUA status to the Medigen vaccine has been controversial in Taiwan as the company has yet to conduct Phase 3 trials for the vaccine to determine its efficacy against the coronavirus.

Chiang slammed the government for receiving vaccine donations from other countries on the one hand, and spending public funds purchasing a locally made vaccine which has yet to receive international recognition to be donated to other countries on the other hand.

MOFA said it has asked the diplomatic allies about their regulations and vaccine importation processes to prepare for possible vaccine assistance if they make such a request.

It added that providing vaccines to the international community is part of Taiwan's effort to contribute to the global fight against COVID-19 under the spirit of "Taiwan can help."

(By Chung Yu-chen and Emerson Lim)

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