TAIPEI, July 21 (Reuters) – A major Taiwanese Buddhist group said on Wednesday it had signed a deal to buy 5 million doses of BioNTech SE’s (22UAy.DE) COVID-19 vaccine via the German firm’s Chinese sales agent, further boosting the island’s fight against the pandemic.
The Tzu Chi Foundation said it June it was bidding to get the vaccines, and Taiwan’s government said it would allow the group to negotiate on its behalf for the shot. The vaccines will be donated to the government for distribution.
In a statement on its Facebook page, Tzu Chi said it had signed the deal with a Hong Kong subsidiary of Fosun.
“After successfully signing the vaccine procurement contract, all the purchased vaccines will be donated to the competent authority for use by the public,” it added, without saying when the vaccines would arrive.
Neither BioNTech nor Fosun immediately responded to requests for comment.
Taiwan’s government expressed its thanks to Tzu Chi.
The news follows a combined 10 million-dose purchase by two Taiwanese tech firms, TSMC (2330.TW) and Foxconn (2317.TW) plus Foxconn founder Terry Gou’s charity, of the same vaccine earlier in July. read more
Taiwan allowed the companies and Tzu Chi to negotiate for the BioNTech vaccine following public pressure that the pace of vaccinations was too slow.
About 20% of Taiwan’s 23.5 million people have received at least one of the two-shot vaccine regimen, and the government is ramping up its inoculation programme.
Taiwan has accused China, which claims the democratically government island as its own territory, of blocking a direct order from BioNTech this year. Beijing denies that.
Reporting by Ben Blanchard. Editing by Gerry Doyle
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