Taiwan is currently facing a serious COVID-19 outbreak, but the Island nation is tricky regarding vaccine procurement. Early in this week, Taiwanese president Tsai Ing-wen’s administration ruled sourcing Pfizer Inc. (NYSE: PFE) and BioNTech SE (NASDAQ: BNTX) from China’s Shanghai Fosun Pharmaceutical Group Co.
Taiwan faces a crisis as vaccine deal falls through
The Taiwanese government has been under pressure to collaborate with China in sourcing the COVID-19 vaccine, which is an unpalatable option for the administration struggling to deal with the outbreak. It is vital to note that Shanghai Fosun Pharmaceutical Group agrees to develop and distribute the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in greater China, including Macau, Taiwan, and Hong Kong. The drugmaker has repeatedly indicated that it is ready to supply Taiwan with the vaccine.
President Tsai and the ruling party have accused China of canceling an earlier deal for millions of BioNTech vaccines, but Beijing has denied the claims. She stated the central government will oversee vaccine procurement this week because it includes an emergency authorization process and deployment.
China interfering with Taiwan’s procurement of COVID-19 vaccine
Several Taiwanese officials have defended the government’s actions, with Health Minister Chen Shih-Chung claiming that the contract with BioNTech fell through when the company insisted that the word “country” be removed from the press statement announcing the transaction. Although Taiwan consented to the modification in the wording, Shih-Chung said the agreement fell apart “not because of something in the contract.” He added that they had reached a consensus with the government’s approval and all they had to do is exchange the contract. Shih-Chung said there have been several uncertainties, and they were blocked, and when they tried to follow up, there was no deal.
President Tsai said they had signed deals with Moderna and AstraZeneca, and they were in talks with BioNTech for the Pfizer vaccine. She added they were almost concluding the deal, but China interfered, and a deal has been delayed. The explicit comments from Tsai validate months of speculation that Beijing was interfering with Taiwan’s vaccine procurement process.