Taiwan presses US health secretary on vaccines
TAIPEI (REUTERS) – Taiwan’s health minister said on Friday (May 21) he had spoken to his US counterpart to get help obtaining Covid-19 vaccines, and he had replied that he would take the matter to President Joe Biden, amid a spike in infections on the island.
Having for months been held up as an example on how to stop the virus in its tracks, Taiwan has over the past two weeks reported a spiralling number of infections in the community, with some 1,800 cases.
Taiwan’s battle against the virus has been complicated by a lack of vaccines, with only about 700,000 arriving to date, including 410,000 this week, all AstraZeneca shots.
Health Minister Chen Shih-chung said he had spoken with Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra on a video conference call about medical cooperation.
“More importantly, we brought up that Taiwan’s pandemic is increasing, and at this point we have an urgent need for vaccines, and hope he can support Taiwan when it comes to the vaccines the United States is going to release,” Mr Chen said.
In response, Mr Chen said Mr Becerra said Taiwan’s needs will be considered and he will take the matter to the president.
Mr Biden said this week he will send at least 20 million more Covid-19 vaccine doses abroad by the end of next month, marking the first time the US is sharing vaccines authorised for domestic use.
The US, like most countries, has no formal diplomatic relations with Chinese-claimed Taiwan, and Beijing routinely condemns any high-level contacts between Washington and Taipei.
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