| 17 April 2024, Wednesday |

Taiwan urges fair access to vaccines amid COVID-19 spike

Taiwan’s cabinet has called for fair access to coronavirus vaccines during a meeting with top Western diplomats, as it faces a declining supply of jabs during a surge in domestic infections.

The country has registered nearly 1,000 new cases over the past week or so, leading to new restrictions in the capital, Taipei, and shocking the population that had become used to life carrying on almost normally.

But its stock of vaccines is rapidly dropping. It has only received a little more than 300,000 until present, all from AstraZeneca. At least two-thirds of those have been distributed.

In a statement issued Wednesday after a virtual workshop on vaccines on Tuesday with the senior U.S., Japanese, British and Australian diplomats in Taipei, Taiwan’s Centers for Disease Control said nowhere was immune from the pandemic’s threat unless everyone controls it.

“Fair access to effective vaccines is the ultimate means to curb the global COVID-19 pandemic. We look forward to more effective and sufficient vaccine development and marketing, and call on all countries to work together to end the COVID-19 pandemic,” the statement said.

Taiwan is mobilizing its diplomats to try to accelerate access to more vaccines, and is in talks with Washington for a share of the COVID-19 doses U.S. President Joe Biden plans to send abroad.

Brent Christensen, the de facto U.S. ambassador to Taiwan, said at the same event that “talking about COVID-19 vaccines can be a sensitive subject”, according to a copy of his remarks published by his office.

“We recognize that each country and region is at different stages in their COVID-19 vaccination programs,” the remarks said. “Unfortunately, many still face difficulties gaining access to vaccines.”

Taiwan has ordered 20 million jabs, mostly from AstraZeneca but also from Moderna Inc, though global shortages have curtailed supplies.

  • Reuters