China's Fosun says it's willing to provide BioNTech vaccines to Taiwan

Taiwan has received only around 700,000 vaccine doses to date, all from AstraZeneca. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

BEIJING (REUTERS) - China's Shanghai Fosun Pharmaceutical Group is willing to provide Taiwan with BioNTech Covid-19 vaccines, its chairman Wu Yifang told Xinhua news agency, amid a spike in domestic infections on the island.

Fosun signed a deal with BioNTech to exclusively develop and commercialise Covid-19 vaccine products developed using BioNTech's mRNA technology in mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan.

BioNTech's development and distribution partner for the rest of the world is US firm Pfizer.

Mr Wu said certain groups in Taiwan - which he did not name - had been in touch for an emergency purchase of vaccines, and the company was willing to "provide vaccine services to Taiwan compatriots".

Since last year, Fosun has been promoting vaccines for Taiwan, Mr Wu said, adding that it hopes shots can arrive on the island soon to help prevent a resurgent spread of the virus.

Fosun did not immediately reply to a Reuters request for comment.

Taiwan's government has said it is talking to BioNTech rather than Fosun, and that the two sides were on the verge of announcing a deal last December when BioNTech pulled the plug.

Taiwan has implied that China was to blame for the failed deal, while China has blamed Taiwan for trying to circumvent Fosun.

BioNTech said in February it planned to provide the vaccine to Taiwan, but has not provided further details and declined to comment on the progress of talks in a statement to Reuters this week.

China claims Taiwan as its own territory, and has repeatedly sparred with the island over the coronavirus pandemic. Taiwan has accused China of spreading fake news, which Beijing denies.

Taiwan has received only around 700,000 vaccine doses to date, all from AstraZeneca, and those are rapidly running out as it steps up vaccinations amid a spike in domestic infections.

Taiwan has millions more doses on order, including from Moderna Inc, but like many other parts of the world has faced delivery delays due to global shortages.

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Taiwan's health minister said on Friday he had spoken to his US counterpart to ask for help in obtaining COVID-19 vaccines amid a spike in infections on the island and the US health secretary would take the matter to President Joe Biden.

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