Taiwan’s COVID-19 vaccine stocks more than doubled by Japan donation

Syringes containing doses of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine will be on display at Tokyo Metropolitan Cancer and Infectious Diseases Center Komagome Hospital in Tokyo, Japan on March 5, 2021. Yoshikazu Tsuno / Pool via REUTERS

Japan will ship 1.24 million cans of AstraZeneca PLCs to Taiwan on Friday (AZN.L) Coronavirus vaccine free, Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi said in a gesture that will more than double the number of vaccinations received so far on the island.

Taiwan is fighting Increase in infections at home and has only vaccinated about 3% of its population. Japan has agreed to receive more than 300 million doses of coronavirus vaccines from Pfizer Inc (PFE.N), Moderna Inc (MRNA.O) and AstraZeneca, more than enough to cover the entire population.

“At the time of the great earthquake in eastern Japan 10 years ago, people in Taiwan immediately sent a lot of donations. I think that burned itself into the minds of the Japanese,” said Motegi, announcing that the vaccines will arrive in Taiwan on Friday would afternoon. “Such an important partnership and friendship with Taiwan is reflected in this offer.”

Taiwan thanked Japan for its generosity.

“The relationship between Taiwan and Japan has always been very close and our friendship is strong and deep,” said the Taiwanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs. “In the event of disasters or accidents, both sides help each other immediately and send help in the hour of need.”

The donation is a triumph for Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen, who faces public anger at the slow arrival of vaccines and small protests by the largest opposition party, the Kuomintang, outside her offices.

The donation “reflects the results of close exchanges between the Tsai Ing-wen government and the Japanese government over the past five years,” said Taiwan’s ruling Democratic Progressive Party.

Though Taiwan’s stake has not been disclosed, the island is also being shot down as part of a White House plan for the United States to share 25 million excess COVID-19 vaccine doses with the world.

Taiwan has only received about 860,000 cans so far, mostly AstraZeneca shots, but also a smaller number from Moderna. It has ordered more than 20 million doses from AstraZeneca and Moderna and is also developing its own vaccines.

In an email statement to Reuters, Johnson & Johnson (JNJ.N) said it had had “confidential talks” with Taiwan since last year about delivering its COVID-19 vaccine to the island, but did not provide details.

The J&J vaccine requires a single dose rather than the two-shot regimen of most other COVID-19 vaccines.

Like many governments, Taiwan’s vaccine plans have been hampered by global shortages.

China, which claims the island as its own territory, has offered vaccines, but Taiwan has repeatedly raised concerns about its safety and accused China of blocking Taiwan’s international vaccine purchases. Beijing denies this.

Japan approved and has AstraZeneca’s vaccine last month obliged to buy 120 million cans. However, there are no immediate plans to use the gunshots due to persistent blood clot concerns raised internationally.

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