The authorities of Taiwanese announced a postponement of the planned purchase of 5 million doses of the vaccine developed by Germany’s BioNTech SE, on Wednesday, February 17, 2021.
The Health Minister of Taiwan, Chen Shih-Chung said the officials were close to announcing a deal in December when BioNTech withdrew.
While not directly linking this to China, Chen implied there was a political dimension to the decision and concerns of interference by outside powers.
“Certain people don’t want Taiwan to be too happy,” he added, without elaborating, in a radio interview.
At the end of December 2020, Taiwan announced an agreement to purchase nearly 20 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. Of which 10 million doses came from British vaccine maker AstraZeneca, the remainder came from the COVAX global vaccine program and an unnamed company.
Meanwhile, BioNTech signed an agreement with Chinese company Shanghai Fosun Pharmaceutical Group Co. Ltd., to exclusively develop and commercialize COVID-19 vaccine products developed using BioNTech mRNA technology in mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan.
In return, they agreed to pay up to $ 85 million in licensing fees and invest $ 50 million in shares in the German company. BioNTech’s worldwide development and distribution partner is the US company Pfizer Inc.
BioNTech and Fosun did not immediately respond to requests for comment. China’s Taiwan Affairs Office declined to comment immediately. China is currently celebrating a week-long Chinese New Year holiday.