The US and other major nations agreed on Wednesday to work together more closely to combat the threat of bioterrorism, in part by improving research cooperation and examining whether to jointly acquire vaccines and antibiotics. \nThe US is on high alert for more outbreaks of anthrax in the wake of the Sept. 11 suicide attacks and scientists say preparations should also be taken against a potentially catastrophic smallpox outbreak. \nCanadian Health Minister Allan Rock, who chaired a meeting of health ministers and senior officials in Ottawa, said the world would be a safer place if the major actors worked more closely together. \n"Today [Wednesday] we agreed that each of us in our respective countries will work together closely in the period ahead to coordinate our efforts to prepare our populations against the threat of bioterrorism," he told a news conference. \nTaking part in the meeting were the US, Canada, Japan, Mexico, Britain, Italy, Germany, France as well as the 15-nation EU. \nThe participants agreed to explore whether to jointly procure vaccines and antibiotics and to coordinate the work of their most advanced laboratories, their surveillance systems and research capacity. They also committed to sharing their emergency preparedness and response plans. \n"I very much hope that this meeting is going to be the first of many in which we can step forward and develop a great partnership ... (to improve) surveillance of the kinds of bioterrorism that's taking place in the US and prevent it from happening," said US Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson. \nCanada will coordinate the work of the new group, which is due to meet at the ministerial level again in Britain in the near future. \n"What we are after in the last analysis is peace but we are also after peace of mind for the populations of each of our countries," said Rock. \nThe meeting devoted a large chunk of time to talking about smallpox vaccines, although Rock stressed the participants felt the risk of a smallpox attack to be remote. \nBut the US is taking no chances with the disease -- a feared biological weapon because of its potential speed of spread and fatality rate -- and plans to stockpile 300 million doses of vaccine. \nThompson said he was in negotiations with three firms to provide the vaccine and would be talking prices with them over the weekend. \n"I don't think you can be overly prepared ... it's so much better to have the vaccine," he said. \n"If the terrorists know we have the vaccine in our countries it is less likely that they will turn to that virus and try to spread it." \nThompson said one possibility might be for the World Health Organization to set up a purchasing pool to buy all the vaccine that would be needed around the world. \nJapanese deputy health minister Jungoro Kondo said Tokyo planned to stockpile 2.5 million doses of vaccine, enough to deal with an outbreak in a major urban center. \nRock said Ottawa was examining its options for enlarging Canada's stockpile, either by buying new vaccines with the Americans or developing its own source. \n"We agreed that working together presents an opportunity for us to influence cost and that's something we'll be taking into account ... [common procurement] is one of the possibilities we discussed," he said.
SCHEDULE: The delegation is due to meet with President Tsai Ing-wen this morning and witness the signing of an MOU on bilateral health cooperation in the afternoon US Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Alex Azar yesterday arrived in Taipei aboard a US government plane at the head of a delegation that is the highest-level visit by a US official since Washington switched diplomatic recognition to China in 1979. Azar’s flight landed at Taipei International Airport (Songshan airport) at 4:48pm, nearly one hour earlier than scheduled, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said. The apron where it landed is reserved for military aircraft, the Songshan Air Force Base Command said. The members of Azar’s delegation included HHS Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response Robert Kadlec, HHS Chief of Staff Brian
CHINESE FIGHTERS: Beijing marked the US Cabinet member’s visit by briefly sending two warplanes across the median line of the Taiwan Strait yesterday morning President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) yesterday met with US Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar in the highest-level official meeting between the two nations since 1979. “It is a true honor to be here to convey a message of strong support and friendship from [US] President [Donald] Trump to Taiwan,” Azar said during the open portion of his courtesy call to the Presidential Office, which was streamed live online before Tsai and Azar held a closed-door meeting. “Taiwan’s response to COVID-19 has been among the most successful in the world, and that is a tribute to the open, transparent,
‘CROSS-STRAIT CONSIDERATIONS’: Groups said that the Ministry of Education’s policies excluded Chinese and students should not be blocked over political issues The Taiwan International Student Movement yesterday said it would protest today outside the Ministry of Education in Taipei against a policy that excludes some Chinese students from returning to Taiwan amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Since June 17, the ministry has allowed foreign students from 19 “low risk” and “medium-low risk” countries and regions to enter Taiwan. On July 22, it announced that it was relaxing restrictions to include students from all countries and regions who are graduating this semester and on Wednesday it further expanded entry to students enrolled in degree programs. A letter sent by the ministry on Wednesday to universities did
PARTNERSHIP AND LEARNING: A Princeton University health policy researcher said that the nation would be a ‘treasure trove’ of information for the US health chief US Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar on Friday said he wants to learn about Taiwan’s “incredibly effective” response to COVID-19, even though the nation did things that the US has fumbled, such as having a unified strategy and citizens willing to wear masks. Azar leads a US delegation arriving today for a three-day visit to Taiwan. They are to meet with President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) and health system leaders, and Azar is to give a speech to public health graduates. “The message of this trip is about Taiwan,” Azar said in an interview, deflecting a question about China.