Foxconn founder Terry Gou asks BioNTech to reserve 30 million more Covid-19 vaccine doses for Taiwan

A medical worker collects a swab sample from a worker at a Foxconn factory on Aug 5, 2021, for nucleic acid testing. PHOTO: REUTERS

TAIPEI (REUTERS) - Mr Terry Gou, the billionaire founder of major Apple Inc supplier Foxconn, has asked BioNTech to reserve 30 million doses of its Covid-19 vaccine for Taiwan, saying he had received a "very good" response.

Taiwan's quest to access the vaccine, jointly developed with Pfizer Inc, has dragged on for months, hampered by accusations from Taipei of political interference from Beijing, which regards the island as a renegade province to be reunified, by force, if necessary.

China has denied the allegations.

Taiwan's government subsequently allowed Mr Gou, Foxconn - formally Hon Hai Precision Industry Co Ltd - as well as Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing, to negotiate on its behalf for the shot.

A US$350 million (S$471.05 million) deal for 10 million shots was inked in July, which will be donated to the government for distribution.

In a lengthy post on his Facebook page late on Sunday (Aug 29), Mr Gou said he "had been promised" that eight to nine million doses would arrive this year, with the first shots arriving in September.

He added that he had asked BioNTech to reserve 30 million doses for Taiwan for next year and "at present has received a very good response".

BioNTech did not respond to a Reuters request for comment.

The BioNTech vaccine drama has transfixed Taiwan and dominated headlines. While a relatively small domestic coronavirus outbreak is well under control, fewer than 5 per cent of its 23.5 million people are fully vaccinated.

Taiwan's government has ordered millions of vaccines itself, from Moderna, AstraZeneca and domestic developer Medigen Vaccine Biologics Corp.

Taiwan's Cabinet said in July the government had ordered a further 36 million doses from Moderna.

A Taiwanese Buddhist group has also ordered five million doses from BioNTech.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.