The United States is donating 750,000 vaccine doses for COVID-19 to Taiwan in a program to distribute shots worldwide, a move that may also help improve the ongoing global chip shortage by avoiding a complete lockdown for the country.
Announced at Songshan Airport in Taipei as part of a visit by U.S. Senators Tammy Duckworth, Dan Sullivan, and Christopher Coons, the donation will be part of the first batch of doses donated abroad b the United States as part of the program.
“It was crucial to the United States that Taiwan be included in the first group to receive vaccines because we recognize your urgent need and we value this partnership,” Duckworth said at a news conference according to Reuters.
Taiwan Foreign Minister Joseph Wu thanked the U.S. for the donation, before declaring “While we are doing our best to import vaccines, we must overcome obstacles to ensure that these life-saving medicines are delivered free from trouble from Beijing.”
While China has offered Chinese-produced vaccines, Taipei is concerned about their safety. Taiwanese law also bans the import of vaccines from China.
The U.S. donation follows a similar act by Japan, which donated 1.24 million doses on Friday.
As of Sunday, around 3% of the 23.5 million people in Taiwan have been vaccinated, and the majority have only received the first of the two required shots. The country is also in the midst of a spike in COVID-19 cases.
The pandemic’s problems in Taiwan are expected to make the situation worse for the global chip shortage, with infections shutting down two factories of key Apple supplier King Yuan Electronics on Friday. The country is currently at COVID-19 warning level 3, one below a complete lockdown, which threatens more facility shutdowns throughout the country.
COVID-19 continues to be a problem for Apple suppliers around the world. On May 31, the Vietnam government asked firms to help secure vaccines for workers at factories.
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