Taiwan reveals how 5 million doses of BNT vaccine contract broke down, criticizes China for obstruction

The continued spread of Taiwan’s new crown epidemic has led to an increasing number of confirmed cases and deaths day by day, and has highlighted the importance and urgency of vaccination. The speed and dosage of vaccine procurement is far from keeping up with the demand, leading to endless battles and debates between the Taiwanese government and the opposition, the central and local governments, and even between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait for days. On the cross-strait side in particular, Beijing has accused the DPP government of being politically hanged and rejecting the goodwill of the mainland’s desire to provide vaccines to Taiwan, while Taiwan has slammed Beijing for politically interfering in Taiwan’s vaccine negotiations with German manufacturers, leading to a broken contract.

Taiwan’s Minister of Health and Welfare and General Director of the Central Epidemic Prevention Command Center Chen Shih-chung revealed at a press conference on May 27 that Taiwan started direct contact with German company BNT as early as last August to discuss the purchase of BNT (Pfizer) vaccines. During the period, there were government appearances and agency manufacturers, but they have been unsuccessful. Negotiations continued until December 31 of last year, when BNT was able to provide a final version of the contract, which was confirmed and agreed to by both parties.

On January 7 this year, the two sides began to discuss the wording and content restrictions of the press release announcing the successful procurement based on the “confidentiality agreement”. Taiwan also provided the originally prepared press release and adjusted the wording of the press release at 5 p.m. on January 8 according to BNT’s request, and BNT confirmed that it had no comments on the press release. Chen Shizhong said, “Originally, we announced to all the people that the contract has been completed”.

Chen said at the press conference that it was surprising that more than four hours later, BNT suddenly changed its mind and requested that the wording of the press release be changed from “our country” to “Taiwan”. Taiwan’s Ministry of Health and Welfare’s CDC also responded quickly, changing the word “our country” to “Taiwan” in the press release the next afternoon. However, on January 15, BNT suddenly requested to re-evaluate the vaccine dose and adjust the schedule, thus delaying the contract schedule.

The Beijing authorities have always claimed that Taiwan is part of China and that they want to reunify the country even by force. Because of this political agenda, Beijing is particularly sensitive to the name and designation of Taiwan, and reacts strongly when it is called or implied that Taiwan is a “country”. John Cena, the star of “Fast and Furious 9” (a.k.a. “The Fast and the Furious 9”) and one of the biggest names in American professional wrestling, told Chinese fans on May 25 that he had called Taiwan a “country. “Many major international companies have also been threatened or sanctioned by Beijing for labeling Taiwan as a “country.

Chen did not directly accuse Beijing of intervening to cause a last-minute break in Taiwan’s contract with BNT. But he said the contract was on the verge of being established from an international perspective, with only the exchange of contracts to go, but it was blocked at the last minute. He said it felt like “the two sides were talking not because of problems within the contract, but problems outside the contract.”

A day earlier, President Tsai Ing-wen had attacked China by name for the first time at the DPP’s midterm meeting for intervening in Taiwan’s negotiations with the original German manufacturer for the BNT vaccine, which has been delayed until now and cannot be signed. Chen Shizhong disclosed in detail at the press conference that Taiwan’s contract with BNT for the purchase of the vaccine broke down at the last minute, seemingly giving a footnote to Tsai’s accusations against Beijing. According to the report, Shanghai Fosun Pharmaceutical Company had a contract with German company BNT to exclusively represent the BNT vaccine in the Greater China region, including the mainland and Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan.

Taiwan has now received 700,000 doses of the vaccine, but only about 1% of the 23.5 million population has been vaccinated. President Tsai Ing-wen revealed on Facebook that Taiwan has negotiated for 30 million doses of the vaccine and that 10 million doses will be available by August. According to reports, the 1,000 doses may also include Taiwan’s own vaccines.