Caixin
May 27, 2021 08:38 PM
CHINA

Beijing Offers Vaccines to Help Taiwan Fight Covid Surge

People walk down a street in Taipei, Taiwan on May 17. Photo: VCG
People walk down a street in Taipei, Taiwan on May 17. Photo: VCG

The central government has offered to send Covid-19 vaccines to Taiwan to help tackle the latest flare-up on the island which has reported triple-digit increases in coronavirus cases for 11 consecutive days.

Taiwan declared 304 newly confirmed cases Wednesday, including 302 local infections, the 10th day the number of cases had topped 200. It also reported 331 retroactively added cases, according to the Taiwan Centers for Disease Control.

The coronavirus surge started on May 15 when the island reported 185 cases. The number of cases was just 29 on May 14.

Zhu Fenglian, the spokesperson for China’s Taiwan Affairs Office, said at a press conference Monday that the mainland is “very worried” about the epidemic currently “raging” in Taiwan and is willing to offer domestically made vaccines.

“We are willing to make arrangements quickly so that the vast majority of Taiwan compatriots will have mainland vaccines to use as soon as possible,” Zhu said.

There are less than 1 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines currently available in Taiwan, Caixin has learned. Amid the current flare-up, and with a population of more than 23 million, it is on the brink of running out of vaccines.

Taiwan leader Tsai Ing-wen said the island has ordered nearly 30 million doses, mostly from British pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca PLC, but they are all on the way, with the first 2 million reportedly expected to arrive in June.

Zhu said some non-governmental organizations in Shanghai and Beijing have offered to donate their first batch of vaccines to Taiwan.

This was echoed by Shi Qianghua, secretary general of Shanghai Health and Medical Development Foundation, who said the foundation is willing to donate a batch of Covid-19 vaccines to Taiwan compatriots. Shi hoped Taiwan could remove “obstacles” to facilitate delivery as soon as possible.

Wu Yifang, president and CEO of Shanghai Fosun Pharmaceutical (Group) Co. Ltd. (600196.SS), said during an interview with the state-run Xinhua News Agency that Fosun has been “actively promoting” the provision of vaccines to Taiwan through multiple channels since 2019.

Wu also said Fosun has signed an agreement with Germany-based vaccine-maker BioNTech SE to participate in research and development of its mRNA vaccine, and secured “exclusive commercial rights” for the Chinese mainland, Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan.

Local authorities in Taiwan have appealed to Taipei for permission to purchase Covid-19 vaccines from the mainland. They also have suggested that Taipei authorities negotiate with Fosun to purchase its exclusively-owned BioNTech vaccine, according to local media reports.

Yang Cheng-wu, head of Kinmen island, located off the coast of East China’s Fujian province, said the local authorities should be allowed to purchase vaccines that meet international standards as soon as possible.

Kinmen has only 600 available vaccine doses, with 200 more on the way, Yang said. The number is far from sufficient, Yang said, as the county has 140,000 registered residents.

Contact reporter Wang Xintong (xintongwang@caixin.com) and Lu Zhenhua (zhenhualu@caixin.com)

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