Skip to main content




Taiwan has not 'given up hope' of getting BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine: Health minister

Taiwan has not 'given up hope' of getting BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine: Health minister

FILE PHOTO: A man rides a bicycle at Ximending shopping area following the recent surge of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) infections in Taipei's Wanhua district, Taiwan, May 28, 2021. REUTERS/Ben Blanchard

TAIPEI: Taiwan has not given up hope of eventually getting COVID-19 vaccines from Germany's BioNTech, Health Minister Chen Shih-chung said on Sunday (May 30), a deal that Taipei's government has blamed China for not being able to complete.

After recording just a handful of daily infections for months, Taiwan is dealing with relatively large numbers of community transmissions, though infection rates are starting to fall.

It has only vaccinated around 1 per cent of its more than 23 million people but has almost 30 million shots on order, from AstraZeneca, Moderna and two domestic firms.

The Chinese-claimed island has blamed Beijing for nixing a deal earlier this year for BioNTech vaccines, which China denies.

READ: Request to drop word 'country' preceded BioNTech vaccine deal collapse, says Taiwan

Chen told reporters that although talks for that shot had "somewhat hit the rocks", Taiwan "has not completely given up hope" of obtaining them.

Shanghai Fosun Pharmaceutical Group Co has a contract with BioNTech to sell the vaccines in Greater China, including to Taiwan, but Taiwan's government says it will only deal with Germany's BioNTech directly and does not trust vaccines from China.

Outside of Greater China, BioNTech has partnered with Pfizer.

Chen said that in late January, the COVAX vaccine-sharing scheme for lower-income countries had told Taiwan it could get shots from Pfizer, but on May 3 COVAX informed the government that would not be possible.

READ: Taiwan targets COVID-19 vaccination for 60% of population by October

Taiwan is under its second-highest level of curbs to stop the spread of infections, including limiting personal gatherings and closing entertainment venues.

Chen said the task was to ensure those measures were being properly enforced, adding, "At present there are no plans or intentions for a lockdown."

The government has come under fire from opposition parties for delays in testing and reporting positive cases, but Chen said that was now improving.

Taiwan reported 355 domestic COVID-19 cases on Sunday, down from 486 on Saturday. Total daily cases peaked on May 17 and have been falling since Friday.

Taiwan has reported 8,160 infections since the pandemic began, including 110 deaths.

BOOKMARK THIS: Our comprehensive coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic and its developments

Download our app or subscribe to our Telegram channel for the latest updates on the coronavirus outbreak:

Source: Reuters/ad


Also worth reading