Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) yesterday said that he had asked his US counterpart for assistance obtaining COVID-19 vaccines.
Chen’s video conference with US Secretary of Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra lasted about 30 minutes yesterday morning, the Ministry of Health and Welfare said in a news release.
Later yesterday at the Central Epidemic Command Center’s (CECC) daily news conference, Chen said that he told Becerra about Taiwan’s urgent need to acquire more vaccine doses amid a COVID-19 outbreak since last week.
Chen, who heads the CECC, expressed his hope that the US would support Taiwan as it is to share vaccine doses with the rest of the world.
In response to media queries on whether Becerra promised that the US would supply doses to Taiwan, Chen said that Becerra reiterated Washington’s support for its allies.
Becerra said he would report on the meeting to US President Joe Biden and the US would consider Taiwan’s need when distributing the vaccines, Chen said.
Taiwan’s battle against COVID-19 has been complicated by a limited supply of vaccines. As of yesterday, about 700,000 doses had arrived, including 410,000 of AstraZeneca PlC’s COVID-19 vaccine earlier this week.
The ministry last month said it expected deliveries of 5.05 million doses of the Moderna Inc COVID-19 vaccine this month.
However, the delivery schedule remains uncertain, with the ministry on Wednesday saying that it had so far received 200 trial doses.
After the video conference with Chen, the US Department of Health and Human Services wrote on Twitter that the US “supports Taiwan’s ability to access vaccines.”
“Great meeting with Minister Chen from Taiwan to discuss the ongoing pandemic & global health issues. The U.S. supports Taiwan’s ability to access vaccines, its contributions to health security, & its return to observership at the #WHA,” it said, referring to the World Health Assembly.
In other news, Minister Without Portfolio Audrey Tang (唐鳳) on Thursday hosted an online meeting on Taiwan’s contribution to open government and anti-corruption efforts.
The meeting was attended by Scott Busby, US acting deputy assistant secretary in the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor at the Department of State, and non-governmental organization leaders including Open Government Partnership deputy director Shreya Basu and Transparency International senior program manager Conny Abel.
The panel discussed how technology can build freer and more open societies, with participants emphasizing the role of technology in supporting information transparency, deepening public-private collaboration and strengthening civil society, the US Department of State said in a news release on Thursday.
The panel also discussed how the COVID-19 pandemic affected transparency efforts, and how media can investigate and raise awareness of corruption, it added.
The event highlighted Taiwan’s contribution to the Global Anti-Corruption Consortium, which supports investigative journalism’s role in documenting corruption, it said.
Additional reporting by Reuters and CNA
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