Taiwan presses US health secretary on Covid-19 vaccines

Taiwan presses US health secretary on Covid-19 vaccines
Taiwan presses US health secretary on Covid-19 vaccines

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Nevin Al Sukari - Sana'a - An empty street with a view of Taiwan's landmark building Taipei 101 following a surge of Covid-19 infections in Taipei, Taiwan May 20, 2021. ― Reuters pic

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TAIPEI, May 21 ― Taiwan's health minister said today he had spoken to his US counterpart to ask for help in obtaining Covid-19 vaccines, who had responded 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 of 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 Plc 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 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.

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 authorised for domestic use.

The United States, like most countries, has no formal diplomatic relations with Chinese-claimed Taiwan, and Beijing routinely condemns any high-level contacts between Washington and Taipei. ― Reuters

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