Pharma | Taiwan concerned China may have blocked vaccine purchase

Taiwan’s attempts to purchase 5 million doses of BioNTech SE’s Covid-19 vaccine fell apart at the last minute, Taiwan’s health minister said, voicing concern that political pressure from Beijing may have scuppered the deal.
Taiwan’s government was making final preparations to sign a deal with Germany-based BioNTech in January but then “things changed,” minister Chen Shih-chung said in an interview on radio station Hit FM yesterday.
Interference by “external forces” upset arrangements, Chen said. “There are some people that don’t want Taiwan to be too happy.”
BioNTech’s regional distributor, China-based Shanghai Fosun Pharmaceutical Group Co., did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the matter. Shanghai Fosun secured rights in March to develop and market the Pfizer Inc./BioNTech vaccine across mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan.
Taiwan has been one of the standout successes in combating the spread of the coronavirus, registering nine deaths and fewer than 1,000 cases since the beginning of the pandemic. But securing vaccinations for its 23.5 million people has proved to be more challenging. The deal’s collapse is a significant setback for Taiwan’s inoculation efforts, and the concerns of interference by Beijing are likely to further strain relations with China.
China’s government claims Taiwan as its territory, despite having never ruled it. Under leader Xi Jinping, China is increasing its military and diplomatic pressure on Taiwan, while also threatening to invade. MDT/Bloomberg

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