TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Two major Taiwanese high-tech companies on Monday (July 12) confirmed that they have signed a deal with a Chinese drugmaker to acquire 10 million doses of the BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine.
On Monday, chipmaker Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC, 台積電) and electronics contract manufacturer Foxconn Technology (富士康) announced that they had inked an agreement with Shanghai Fosun Pharmaceutical Group for 5 million doses of the BioNTech vaccine each. The doses are all to be donated to the Taiwanese government for distribution to the general public.
TSMC said that including procurement, the necessary cold chain logistics and processing services, and insurance, the donation is valued at US$175 million, and the recipient is the Taiwan Centers for Disease Control. In an announcement on his Facebook page early Monday morning, Foxconn Technology founder Terry Gou (郭台銘) said his charity, the Yonglin Foundation, had spearheaded the vaccine acquisition and donated US$70 million, while his firm had donated US$105 million to the purchase.
The price per dose will be US$30, and once additional costs such as cold chain storage are factored in, it is estimated that the tech giants will have spent between US$31 and US$34 per dose. TechNews reported that if everything goes smoothly, the combined 10 million doses will be shipped directly from Germany in September or October, while UDN estimated they will arrive in October.
According to Gou, Foxconn and the Yonglin Foundation proposed their plan to the Taiwanese government on May 23 and submitted the documents required to apply for permission to purchase and import coronavirus vaccines on June 1. TSMC applied for permission on June 10, and on June 18 the Cabinet announced TSMC and the Yongling Foundation would negotiate deals for vaccine doses on the government's behalf.
The private firms stepped in after the stalemate in negotiations between BioNTech and the Central Epidemic Command Center since January. Local Taiwanese media allege that the impasse was created by interference by BioNTech's Chinese executive, Xu Shanshan (徐姍姍), who suddenly raised objections over the use of the term "our country" on Jan. 8.
Pundits see the deal as a compromise that gives or saves face to all political parties involved. The opposition Kuomintang party, which had pushed for such a purchase, can get credit for helping acquire doses; the Chinese Communist Party gets bragging rights over a Chinese company selling doses to Taiwan; Germany no longer faces pressure to choose sides; and the Tsai administration can show it has finally obtained the coveted Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine.