Taiwan’s EVA Air announced Wednesday (June 2) that flights from Taiwan’s Taoyuan to Los Angeles in the United States will be adjusted from three flights a week to seven flights a week starting June 7. Taiwan media said many Taiwanese travelers said they were running to the U.S. to get the new crown vaccine.
According to MinTV News, in addition to taking civilian airline flights to the U.S., some wealthy people have spent about NT$7.5 million (about US$270,000) to book private jets.
One traveler told MinTV News that the epidemic is more serious in Taiwan now, so he wanted to return to the United States for refuge. The traveler went on to say, “Because vaccines are also available in the U.S., so I would like to say go back to the U.S. to get vaccinated, I would not trust the vaccines in Taiwan, the domestic vaccines have not gone through the third phase.”
Another traveler to the U.S. told MinTV News that this trip to the U.S. just happened to allow for vaccination because the U.S. now does not restrict the nationality of vaccinators.
MinTV News also cited industry sources as saying that many passengers flying to Los Angeles on EVA Air hold U.S. green cards or have dual citizenship in Taiwan and the United States. These people want to fly to the U.S. to escape the outbreak and get vaccinated. Industry insiders also said the airline was “working extra shifts” as a result.
In addition to EVA Air, which said it would increase the number of flights to the U.S., Taiwan’s China Airlines said it would adjust the aircraft type in accordance with the purchase of tickets to meet passenger demand.
Publicly available information shows that about 136 million people in the United States have completed full-dose vaccinations, a figure that represents about 40 percent of the total U.S. population. The daily number of new cases in the U.S. exceeded 300,000 in January, and the number of new cases in the U.S. has remained at about 20,000 per day recently. The U.S. states have now reopened one after another, and people are gradually returning to normal life.
The Central News Agency reported that some airline industry analysts said that some Taiwanese people did go to the U.S. to get vaccinated, but the U.S. fall semester is approaching and there are many people who are going to the U.S. early to prepare for the start of school.
The current situation of the new crown epidemic in Taiwan is not optimistic. The Central Epidemic Command Center announced Thursday that there are 366 new confirmed cases of NCC in Taiwan and 219 corrected cases returning to Taiwan, for a total of 585 cases. The cumulative number of confirmed cases of NCC in Taiwan has reached 9,974.
Taiwan has previously been viewed as a model for epidemic preparedness, but the recent escalating number of confirmed cases and deaths, as well as its approximately 1% vaccination rate, underscore the importance and urgency of vaccination. However, the speed and dosage of vaccine procurement in Taiwan seems to be far from keeping up with demand, and Taiwan recently slammed Beijing for politically interfering in Taiwan’s vaccine negotiations with German manufacturers, leading to a broken contract.
Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen has said on Facebook that she has held several discussions with Taiwan’s Minister of Health and Welfare and Commander of the Central Epidemic Command Center Chen Shih-chung, and that in addition to focusing on how to prepare medical resources and assist local governments in epidemic prevention, the progress of vaccine procurement has been one of the important topics. Taiwan has already negotiated the purchase of 30 million doses of vaccine, and 10 million doses will be in place by August.
“The government will work together with the private sector to get more vaccines.” Tsai wrote on Facebook on Monday, “Since vaccines are to be administered into the human body, the source of the vaccine supply must be properly checked. The vaccines fought for enthusiastically by all sectors will also be confirmed to be safe, effective and legal, and able to protect the health of the nation, just like the vaccines negotiated by the government, after rigorous gatekeeping.”