Shanghai Fosun Pharmaceutical Group might have lost its right to distribute the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for COVID-19 and the ability to fulfill a contract in Taiwan, civic groups Taiwan Citizen Front and the Economic Democracy Union said yesterday.
In a radio interview on Feb. 17, Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), head of the Central Epidemic Command Center, said that last year, Taiwan was close to signing a contract to buy doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, but that the deal was halted at the last moment, with some speculating that Chinese interference was to blame.
On Monday last week, the center said that it had since November last year been negotiating a deal directly with German vaccine maker BioNTech.
Some in the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) questioned why the center did not try to negotiate a deal through Pfizer-BioNTech’s Chinese partner, Shanghai Fosun Pharmaceutical Group, which obtained the right to market and distribute the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in Taiwan and China, including Macau and Hong Kong.
In March last year, a Shanghai Fosun statement on the Shanghai Stock Exchange’s Web site confirmed that the company was authorized to develop and market the vaccine in Taiwan and China, Taiwan Citizen Front member Hsu Kuang-tse (許冠澤) said.
However, in the middle of December last year, the company released a modified contract, including a profit allocation plan with BioNTech that listed China, Hong Kong and Macau, but not Taiwan, Hsu said.
The contract stated that the company was responsible for applying to country regulators for clinical trials and drug approvals, but Shanghai Fosun has not applied to the Ministry of Health and Welfare, Hsu said, adding that the contract’s failure to mention Taiwan might indicate that the company lost its authorization to distribute the vaccine here.
Shanghai Fosun applied for emergency use authorization in Hong Kong and Macau, and for clinical trials in China, but did not apply for either in Taiwan, Taiwan Citizen Front member Chiang Min-yen (江旻諺) said.
The civic groups are skeptical that Shanghai Fosun still has the authorization to honor a contract to deliver doses of the vaccine to Taiwan, Chiang added.
Beijing plans to purchase more doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, so Taipei should be aware that the Chinese government might pressure BioNTech not to sell vaccines to Taiwan, or to delay until after fulfilling its contract with Beijing, Economic Democracy Union convener Lai Chung-chiang (賴中強) said.
A survey of young Taiwanese showed that only 36.5 percent of men and 19.6 percent of women believe marriage is important, a trend that academics say is key to the nation’s low birthrate. Yang Wen-shan (楊文山), an adjunct research fellow at Academia Sinica’s Institute of Sociology, yesterday announced the 12th round of results from a longitudinal survey of attitudes among young Taiwanese toward markers of adulthood. While few of the respondents, who were aged 28 to 32 when surveyed in 2017, found marriage to be important, 95.8 percent believed that being responsible for oneself should take precedence, data showed. Economic independence came in
SHRINKING FEMALE POPULATION: Last year, 107.74 boys were born for every 100 girls in Taiwan, which is a greater gender imbalance than in Japan and South Korea The Ministry of the Interior recorded 9,601 births in January, the first time the nation has produced fewer than 10,000 newborns in a single month, while different indicators showed that Taiwan might also be facing a population with increasingly fewer births, women and marriages. It comes after the ministry reported a record low 165,249 births last year, which was lower than the 173,156 deaths recorded last year. The nation experienced negative population growth for the first time last year, ministry data found. The number of births in January also dropped from a year earlier, when there were 12,510 births. In February, there were
The Hualien District Prosecutors’ Office has listed six people as suspects in a judicial investigation into a fatal train crash on Friday last week. Fifty people were killed and more than 200 were injured when the Taroko Express No. 408 train slammed into a crane truck that had slid onto the tracks near the entrance of Cingshuei Tunnel (清水隧道) in Hualien’s Sioulin Township (秀林). The office also summoned six officials at the Taiwan Railways Administration’s (TRA) Hualien Engineering Section for questioning about alleged illegal business operations and unsafe work conditions by Yi Hsiang Industry Co and Tung Hsin Construction Co, the two
SUPPORTING DEMOCRACY IN ASIA: Twitter aims to ‘play a unique role in enabling the public conversation around important social movements,’ the US company said Twitter has thrown its support behind the “Milk Tea Alliance” of democracy movements in Taiwan, Hong Kong and elsewhere in Asia, defying China at a time when Beijing is punishing Western companies for commenting on what it considers internal matters. The social media company yesterday prominently displayed flags of Taiwan, Hong Kong, Myanmar and Thailand while unveiling an emoji to support democracy advocates in places that have in the past few years seen historic protests and share a love for the beverage. The emoji will automatically show up when users post the #MilkTeaAlliance hashtag, which was posted been 11 million times