The United States will donate 750,000 doses of Covid-19 vaccine to Taiwan as part of the country’s plan to share injections globally, offering a much-needed boost to the island’s fight against the pandemic.
Taiwan is grappling with an increase in domestic cases, but has been affected, as in many places, by a global shortage of vaccines. He has also claimed that China is hampering his attempts to secure doses internationally.
Only about 3% of the 23.5 million people in Taiwan have been vaccinated, and most receive only the first of the two necessary vaccines.
The donation was announced by US Sen. Tammy Duckworth on Sunday, speaking at the Songshan Airport in central Taipei after arriving on a brief visit with fellow senators Dan Sullivan and Christopher Coons.
“It was critical for the United States that Taiwan be included in the first group to receive vaccines because we recognize its urgent need and value this partnership,” he told a news conference.
“We are here as friends, because we know that Taiwan is going through a difficult time right now, so it was especially important for the three of us to be here in a bipartisan way.”
He did not give details of which vaccines Taiwan would receive or when.
Taiwan has complained that China, which claims the democratically governed island is its own, is trying to prevent the island from accessing vaccines internationally, which Beijing has denied.
Alongside Duckworth, Taiwanese Foreign Minister Joseph Wu thanked the United States for the donation and the strong message of support for the senators’ visit.
“As we do our best to import vaccines, we must overcome obstacles to ensure that these life-saving drugs are delivered smoothly from Beijing,” he said.
China has offered Taiwan vaccines made in China, but the government has repeatedly expressed concern for their safety and, in any case, cannot import them without changing Taiwanese law, which prohibits their importation.
Joe Biden announced last week that the US will quickly donate an initial allocation of 25 million doses of surplus vaccines abroad through the UN-backed Covax program, which has shared only 76 million doses with countries to date. people in need. Overall, the White House has announced plans to share 80 million doses worldwide by the end of June.
Thai-born Duckworth said the American donation also reflects gratitude for Taiwan’s support of the US, as Taiwan donated personal protective equipment and other supplies to the US in the early days of the pandemic.
The senators, who arrived on a US air force freighter rather than a private jet, will also meet with President Tsai Ing-wen to discuss security and other issues. Sullivan, a Republican, is a member of the armed services committee and Coons is a member of the foreign relations committee.
On Friday, Japan provided Taiwan with 1.24 million doses of AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccine for free, in a gesture that doubled the number of injections the island has received to date.