The Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday said that its plans to donate doses of the COVID-19 vaccine developed by Medigen Vaccine Biologics Corp to the nation’s diplomatic allies are in response to their needs, after the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) called for an explanation.
KMT Chairman Johnny Chiang (江啟臣) at a news conference in Taipei yesterday showed reporters an image of a document that he said the ministry had sent to nine of the nation’s embassies on Tuesday last week.
The document says that the government is considering donating doses of the Medigen vaccine to the nation’s diplomatic allies and asked the embassies to inquire whether their host nations would be interested in receiving them.
“On the one hand, we rely on other nations to donate to us internationally certified vaccines, then on the other hand our government wants to use public funds to purchase domestic vaccines without international certification to give to our diplomatic allies,” Chiang said.
He questioned the “logic” behind the plan, as well as where the funding would come from.
Chiang also asked why the government was “in a hurry” to donate the vaccine, as it only received an emergency use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration on Monday last week.
The Medigen vaccine is “controversial,” Chiang said, questioning whether the donation proposal was the ministry’s idea or whether it had been requested by senior government officials.
“Taiwan’s public health standards are very high,” Chiang said, adding that the government should not sacrifice the nation’s credibility.
“The government and Ministry of Foreign Affairs must come out and explain” the plan, he said.
In a statement yesterday afternoon, the ministry said that some diplomatic allies have struggled to acquire COVID-19 vaccines and have followed the progress of Taiwan’s domestic vaccines, expressing their high expectations for them.
Beijing has continued to use vaccines in an attempt to damage relations between Taiwan and its diplomatic allies, and to protect its allies from Beijing’s “diplomatic extortion,” the government had said that it would be willing to consider the feasibility of donating domestic vaccines once they are in mass production and on the precondition that domestic demand would be met, the ministry said.
To respond to the urgent needs of the nation’s allies, the ministry asked the embassies to look into the procedures for their host governments to import foreign vaccines as part of a preliminary assessment, it said.
Any donations of COVID-19 vaccines would be funded by the ministry’s foreign aid budget, it added.
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