The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) yesterday called on the public to launch nationwide protests against the government’s COVID-19 vaccine policy tomorrow.
People should protest at home by taking photographs of themselves holding up signs with the slogan “support healthcare workers, we want vaccines” and post them on Facebook under a hashtag for the protest.
Earlier yesterday, the KMT said that people should protest “wherever they are,” suggesting that people make noise in front of open windows at home, bang pots and pans, and turn off their lights for one minute at 8pm, as well as that people who are traveling in their vehicles should honk their horns.
Photo: Chen Chih-chu, Taipei Times
After medical workers said that this might disrupt their work, the KMT changed its protest call.
KMT Disciplinary Committee director Yeh Ching-yuan (葉慶元) in an online news conference accused the Ministry of Health and Welfare of contravening the law by demanding that Honhai Precision Industry Co (鴻海精密) founder Terry Gou (郭台銘) submit letters from BioNTech as part of his application to import COVID-19 vaccines from the German manufacturer.
The YongLin Charity and Education Foundation, a charity established by Gou, on Tuesday submitted its application for the importation of 5 million doses of the vaccine to the Food and Drug Administration.
Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC), on Thursday said that the foundation would additionally have to submit an original letter of authorization from the manufacturer.
Citing the Regulations for Approval of Specific Medical Products’ Manufacturing or Importing as a Special Case (特定藥物專案核准輸入及製造辦法), Yeh said that there is no legal requirement for the additional documentation or any other proof that a drug intended for import is available.
Requirements cited by the ministry cannot be found on its Web site, Yeh added.
In contrast with other entities, the CECC could import drugs and file the required paperwork up to half a year later, Yeh said, citing Article 51 of the Communicable Disease Control Act (傳染病防治法).
“All this talk of paperwork … is bogus,” Yeh said.
Chen is misinterpreting the law and making up requirements to prevent the importation of vaccines, he added.
KMT Chairman Johnny Chiang (江啟臣) said that even with Japan’s donation of 1.24 million doses of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine yesterday, Taiwan still needs more vaccines.
If Taiwan “opens its doors,” it would be able to obtain more vaccines quickly, Chiang said.
The donation from Japan shows that the administration of President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) needs help to obtain doses from the private sector, the public and the international community, Chiang said, adding that the government’s planning on vaccine purchases is disorganized and has evidently failed.
The government has said that it stands with the people, and now it is time to live up to its words instead of blocking the importation of vaccines, citing “vaccine safety,” he said.
Taiwanese can “only shake their heads” in dismay over the government’s performance while people in the private sector are seeking ways to purchase vaccines, he said.
Separately, Democratic Progressive Party caucus secretary-general Lo Chih-cheng (羅致政) yesterday said that KMT lawmakers should “do their job in the legislature” instead of staging a protest under the “we want vaccines” banner in front of the Presidential Office Building in Taipei earlier that day.
Additional reporting by Jason Pan and CNA
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