Update: 15:30 2021-6-18
President Tsai will meet with TSMC Chairman Mark Liu (劉德音) and Foxconn founder Terry Gou (郭台銘) Friday afternoon to discuss procurement plans.
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taiwan announced Friday (June 18) that Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC) and Foxconn founder Terry Gou's Yongling Foundation have been authorized to negotiate deals for COVID-19 vaccines on the government’s behalf.
Cabinet Spokesman Lo Ping-cheng (羅秉成) said in a press conference the two parties have expressed interest in procuring 5 million BioNTech (BNT) doses as donations for Taiwan. The government will take full responsibility for the handling of the products, following the precedent set by the 1.24 million dose donation by Japan, he added.
This follows the request by Terry Gou to meet with President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) as a show of support to proceed with the tycoon's vaccine procurement plans. His plans hit a snag since the German drugmaker does not hold talks with non-governmental groups about buying vaccines.
In addition, there is a controversy involving China’s Shanghai Fosun Pharmaceutical. The Chinese company has a contract with BNT to distribute vaccines to Asian countries, including Taiwan.
Taiwan has struggled to secure COVID jabs amid supply woes and challenges it blames on political meddling from China. A surge in local infections is causing dissatisfaction with how the government addresses vaccine shortages.
The United States has pledged 750,000 jabs for Taiwan, though details have yet been unveiled. Another 10 million domestically produced doses are expected to be available in July if all goes as planned.
As of June 15, about 1 million Moderna and Oxford-AstraZeneca doses have been administered in Taiwan, which has a population of 23.6 million.