The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) on Friday urged the government to protect Taiwan’s frontline healthcare staff by trading locally produced semiconductor chips for COVID-19 vaccines from other countries.
“KMT legislators are deeply concerned about the [cluster of infections] at Taoyuan General Hospital and have expressed this to the caucus,” KMT caucus whip Lin Wei-chou (林為洲) said.
The first case linked to the Ministry of Health and Welfare’s hospital was confirmed on Jan. 12.
The KMT at an extraordinary legislative meeting called on the government to exchange chips produced in Taiwan for vaccines to help shield medical staff from the virus, Lin said.
KMT Legislator Wan Mei-ling (萬美玲) said that she telephoned Deputy Minister of Health and Welfare Hsueh Jui-yuan (薛瑞元) last week, asking the ministry to help after learning that staff at some clinics in Taoyuan did not have enough masks and other protective gear.
The ministry on Thursday distributed 45,000 N95 masks, 45,000 sets of protective gear and 2,000 hand sanitizer dispensers to the clinics, she said.
The “chips for vaccines” idea was proposed on Monday by experts from the Taiwan Institute of Economic Research, with the aim of helping the nation gain access to vaccines rolled out by several countries amid a stalemate in negotiations between states to acquire them.
The idea followed news over the weekend that Germany has asked for Taiwan’s help to ease a severe global shortage of automotive semiconductor chips.
Minister of Economic Affairs Wang Mei-hua (王美花) on Thursday said that she had conveyed the “chips for vaccines” idea to German Institute Taipei Director-General Thomas Prinz at a meeting in Taipei a day earlier in the hope that “Germany could assist Taiwan in obtaining vaccines within a feasible range.”
Former American Institute in Taiwan director William Stanton yesterday said on the sidelines of a forum in Taipei that Taiwan’s increased importance in technological manufacturing is because it has always been a vital center for many modern technologies.
Were Taiwan to provide assistance to the US in the form of more semiconductor chips, the US could reciprocate in other fields, such as vaccines, Stanton said.
Such interaction would benefit both sides, he said.
Additional reporting by Peng Wan-hsin
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