President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) on Saturday thanked the US for donating 2.5 million doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine to Taiwan, saying that the US is a “true friend” that supports Taiwanese.
The donation of 2.5 million doses is comprised of 750,000 doses pledged by the US on June 6 and 1.75 million more doses announced over the weekend. The shipment arrived in Taiwan yesterday.
On Facebook, Tsai thanked US President Joe Biden’s administration for its “strong support for the Taiwanese people.”
She also thanked Taiwan’s foreign affairs officials, including Representative to the US Hsiao Bi-khim (蕭美琴), for striving to obtain vaccines and fighting for the health of people in Taiwan.
Presidential Office spokesman Xavier Chang (張惇涵) said that much had to be done in the past two weeks, including confirmation of the vaccine’s technical documents, signing of a contract, and coordination of transport and storage.
Tsai and Hsiao were in constant communication over the progress being made, while diplomats in Taiwan and the US worked tirelessly to ensure a smooth delivery, he said.
Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Johnny Chiang (江啟臣) said the donation was proof of the friendship between Taiwan and the US, and thanked the US for its help.
However, the aid from Japan and the US makes the central government’s lack of vaccine procurement all the more regrettable, he added.
Chiang urged the Democratic Progressive Party government to closely monitor vaccine deliveries, assist local businesses in their efforts to purchase vaccines and ensure that local vaccine firms conduct phase 3 clinical trials.
Taiwan cannot simply rely on other countries’ donations, he said.
Taiwan has signed contracts to purchase nearly 20 million vaccine doses from abroad, including 5.05 million Moderna doses, 10 million AstraZeneca doses and 4.76 million doses of unspecified brands through the COVAX program.
It has also signed contracts to buy 10 million doses of vaccines from two Taiwanese companies.
However, Taiwan has to date received only 2.29 million doses, including 390,000 that it purchased from Moderna and 1.9 million AstraZeneca doses — of which 1.24 million were donated by Japan and 726,600 were purchased from the manufacturer and COVAX.
Experts say that Taiwan needs about 30 million doses to achieve herd immunity — with 60 percent of the population being vaccinated — and reopen to the world.
Only about 6 percent of Taiwan’s 23.6 million people have so far received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose.
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