With Taiwan’s COVID-19 “ring of steel” breached, the public is demanding vaccines, and politicians are calling for vaccine imports to be expedited. However, the manner in which the debate is being conducted leaves much to be desired.
Some people believe that companies and nonprofit groups should be allowed to import vaccines. This is not as simple as it sounds. The mRNA vaccines made by Moderna and BioNTech need to be stored at extremely low temperatures during their transportation from overseas manufacturing plants to the clinics that administer them.
Regarding the BioNTech vaccine, its export from the EU requires complex paperwork and procedures. It would be extremely difficult for anyone without a pharmaceutical background to attempt to surmount this hurdle, let alone keep it at the required temperature throughout transit.
Additionally, this vaccine has only been granted emergency use authorization from the European Medicines Agency. This means that it can only be sold to companies participating in Germany’s domestic vaccination program; it cannot be bought by individuals or companies. Outside Germany, it can only be sold to governments due to insurance issues.
Although Taiwan has procured about 5 million doses of the Moderna vaccine from Europe, some Taiwanese are urging the government to purchase the German-produced BioNTech vaccine as well.
However, when China’s Shanghai Fosun Pharmaceutical Group signed a contract with BioNTech to exclusively develop and sell its mRNA technology in China, it was able to wedge Taiwan into the agreement. Thus, Beijing has prevented Taiwan from buying the vaccine directly from the German manufacturer. Germany and BioNTech’s hands are tied.
How long will the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) continue to act as Beijing’s fifth column in Taiwan? It is doing so by continuing to agitate for the BioNTech vaccine, produced under China’s license.
Uptake of the BioNTech vaccine in Hong Kong has been low. Many Hong Kongers are concerned that the Chinese producer might have altered the vaccine, that cold storage might not have been conducted properly, and generally have lost trust. These fears were seeded by the WHO acquiescing to Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) throughout the pandemic, which many Hong Kongers believe affected the WHO’s decision to authorize emergency use of the Chinese-produced vaccine in Hong Kong.
Hong Kongers are similarly reluctant to take the CoronaVac vaccine, produced by China’s Sinovac Biotech, which has not been peer reviewed by any international scientific journal.
Speaking as one who has lived in Hong Kong and currently works in Germany, I believe that the KMT and the Taiwan People’s Party are deliberately trying to sow confusion and destabilize the government.
Due to Taiwan’s unique circumstances, in advocating for the instigator of the pandemic to gain a foothold over Taiwan’s vaccination program, these parties do not have Taiwan’s best interests at heart; the arguments they put forward would clearly harm the nation.
Taiwan must step up its efforts to develop and manufacture its own vaccines, to prevent the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), through its party-aligned pharmaceutical companies, from placing its foot on Taiwan’s windpipe.
The optimal solution would be for Taiwanese pharmaceutical firms to obtain a production and distribution license from Moderna, Johnson & Johnson or AstraZeneca.
The COVID-19 pandemic has elevated Taiwan’s biotechnology sector to a key strategic industry as important to the nation as the semiconductor arena; both could be called upon to help protect the nation in the years ahead.
Despite this, the KMT appears to be taking orders from Beijing. Having failed in its attempts to destroy Taiwan’s semiconductor industry, the CCP, aided and abetted by the KMT, is now trying to crush Taiwan’s biotechnology sector. Anyone paying attention should recognize that the KMT does not have Taiwan’s best interests at heart.
Martin Oei is a Hong Kong-born British political commentator based in Germany.
Translated by Edward Jones
Early on Sunday morning, Taipei welcomed three US senators on a brief stopover during a tour of the Indo-Pacific region. Although Tammy Duckworth, Dan Sullivan and Chris Coons were only in Taiwan for about three hours, their presence made an outsized impact, as they appeared to personally announce a US donation of 750,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses to help Taiwan reach the other side of the pandemic. While some, including a reporter at a Central Epidemic Command Center news conference on Sunday, have said the amount was small compared with expectations, it is actually a significant contribution and a resounding gesture of
On Monday last week, a formation of 16 Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) warplanes flew over the South China Sea near Malaysian Borneo and intruded into the airspace of Malaysia’s exclusive economic zone. Although it was not the first incursion into Malaysian airspace by Chinese military aircraft, it was the first time such a large formation had been dispatched by China. It was yet another worrying indication that Beijing senses an opportunity to aggressively shape the post-COVID-19 world in its own image and has stepped up its plans to expand the frontiers of its empire well beyond the limits of its
With Taiwan’s COVID-19 “ring of steel” breached, the public is demanding vaccines, and politicians are calling for vaccine imports to be expedited. However, the manner in which the debate is being conducted leaves much to be desired. Some people believe that companies and nonprofit groups should be allowed to import vaccines. This is not as simple as it sounds. The mRNA vaccines made by Moderna and BioNTech need to be stored at extremely low temperatures during their transportation from overseas manufacturing plants to the clinics that administer them. Regarding the BioNTech vaccine, its export from the EU requires complex paperwork and procedures.