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Taiwan becoming less likely to purchase COVID vaccine from BioNTech

Negotiations ongoing despite expected delivery delays for Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine

Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine  

Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine   (AP photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The chances of Taiwan purchasing coronavirus vaccines from Germany's BioNTech are decreasing, as the company has expressed a desire to postpone the deal due to problems in its global supply chain, according to Health Minister Chen Shih-chung (陳時中).

Speaking at the Legislative Yuan on Monday (March 29), Chen pointed out that BioNTech has asked to move back its vaccine distribution date for Taiwan after experiencing manufacturing shortages in its global supply. Although negotiations are still ongoing, the expected delays could last for months, he said.

Chen said Taiwan is hoping to acquire the Pfizer-BioNTech shots before its domestic ones go into mass production. Once the domestically developed doses become widely available, the country will be less dependent on the imported vaccine, he explained.

When asked whether political factors had prevented Taiwan from obtaining the coronavirus vaccine successfully, Chen admitted there was pressure from foreign governments. However, he did not clarify which countries he was referring to.

In February, Chen said the German vaccine developer had called off its coronavirus vaccine deal with Taiwan at the last minute, possibly due to pressure from China. BioNTech responded by pledging to provide its vaccine to Taiwan without confirming whether reports of Beijing's intervention were true.