| 29 November 2022, Tuesday |

Taiwan asks U.S. health secretary for help in obtaining vaccines

Taiwan’s health minister Chen Shih-chung said on Friday he had spoken to his U.S. counterpart to ask for help in getting COVID-19 vaccines amid a surge in infections, and the U.S. health secretary would take the matter to President Joe Biden.

Having for months been held up as an example of how to stop the virus in its tracks, Taiwan has over the past two weeks reported a spiraling number of infections in the community, with some 1,800 cases.

Health Minister said the situation remained stable at its peak, with authorities able to track the sources of most infections.

Taiwan’s battle against the virus has been complicated by a shortage of vaccines, with only about 700,000 arriving to date, including 410,000 this week, all AstraZeneca shots.

Chen said he had spoken with Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra on a video conference call about medical cooperation, the highest level contact between the two governments since Biden was inaugurated in January.

“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 are going to release,” Chen said.

In response, Chen said Becerra said Taiwan’s needs will be considered and he will take the matter to the president.

Chen said this weekend would be critical in bringing the pandemic under control and he called on people to stay at home as much as possible.

Biden said this week he will send at least 20 million more COVID-19 vaccine doses abroad by the end of June, marking the first time the United States is sharing vaccines authorized for domestic use.

  • Reuters