Biontech: Foxconn and TSMC buy 10 million vaccine doses for Taiwan

The Taiwanese hardware giants are using their contacts for a large order that is supposed to give momentum to the sluggish vaccination campaign in Taiwan.

Hardware manufacturers Hon Hai (Foxconn) and Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) are supporting the Taiwanese government in procuring vaccines against the coronavirus. Together with an aid organization run by Foxconn founder Terry Gou, the companies have signed a supply contract for 10 million doses of the mRNA vaccine produced by Pfizer with Chinese sales partner Shanghai Fosun Pharmaceutical, Biontech announced on Monday.

The vaccine will be donated to the Taiwanese authorities for the state vaccination program, the statement said . The companies pay half of the equivalent of around 300 million euros for 10 million cans of Biontech. “Biontech is delighted to be able to supply the people of Taiwan with vaccines made in the European Union,” said Biontech CEO Ugur Sahin.

Meeting with President Tsai

The heads of Foxconn and TSMC had offered the Taiwanese government to use their contacts to help procure more cans. While Taipei hesitated at first, Taipei gave up the resistance in the face of growing domestic political pressure. Gou and TSMC chief Mark Liu were given the go-ahead at a meeting with President Tsai Ing-wen in June. After the contract is signed, the first deliveries are expected in September.

Taiwan has been trying for some time to order vaccines directly from Biontech in Germany. The government in Taipei wanted to bypass the official Biontech sales partner in China. The federal government had also tried to mediate. In January, Taiwan also offered to swap the chips urgently needed by German industry for vaccines .

The island state, which is not recognized by China, accuses the Chinese government of sabotaging Taiwan’s procurement attempts and of preventing a contract from being signed. The Beijing government rejects the allegations and stressed that Taiwan could also order vaccines from Fosun Pharma, which has exclusive distribution rights for Biontech in China, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan

Sluggish vaccination campaign

The Taiwanese government had recently come under pressure because of the slow start of the vaccination campaign. So far, only 15 percent of the population have been vaccinated once and only 0.3 percent of the approximately 24 million Taiwanese have already received the second dose.

According to government information, Taiwan has ordered around 20 million cans from AstraZeneca, Moderna and the Covax program, but only received 2.15 million of them. In addition, the country has received 4.9 million doses from Japan and the United States. The government has ordered another 10 million cans from Taiwanese manufacturers.