Taiwan says working hard to get vaccines, COVID-19 infections fall

Taiwan is working hard to get the almost 20 million COVID-19 vaccines it has ordered as soon as possible even in the face of global shortages, amid domestic pressure to speed up supplies even as infections fall, President Tsai Ing-wen said on Monday.

Apple Xinyi A13 in Taiwan
Apple Xinyi A13 in Taiwan

Yimou Lee and Ben Blanchard for Reuters:

Taiwan is ramping up its vaccination campaign amid a spike in domestic infections after months of relative safety, but has so far given shots to fewer than 2% of its more than 23 million people, though millions of additional doses are on their way.

In a live broadcast from the presidential office, Tsai said with the pandemic remaining serious around the world, vaccine supplies had unable to keep up with demand, and all governments, including Taiwan’s, were working hard to get shots…

The island reported 347 domestic COVID-19 cases on Monday, including 73 cases added to the totals for recent days, as it continues to readjust its infection numbers amid delays in reporting positive tests. That marked the second consecutive day in which new cases were below 400, after a rare uptick in domestic cases concentrated in Taipei and its nearby cities.

Terry Gou, the billionaire founder of major Apple Inc supplier Foxconn, said on Saturday his charity plans to apply to import five million doses of BioNTech SE’s COVID-19 vaccine into Taiwan.

MacDailyNews Take: Thanks to Terry Gou for stepping up for Taiwan!

15 Comments

  1. Yep, I posted about this a few days ago and got flooded with one-star clicks – not sure why. There are Covid related risks to Apple’s supply chain in Taiwan (such as camera components). Remember, the A15, M1 and M1X are all manufactured in Taiwan. China is blocking Taiwan’s access to vaccines. So nice!

    1. Put this into perspective, people: Taiwan (pop. 23MM) has “had 73 cases in recent days.” The supposedly “recovered” US State of Florida (pop. 20MM) has a 7-day daily average of 1443 cases. The Asia-Pacific nations have much lower thresholds for triggering lockdowns because they take the pandemic more seriously. They have much lower caseloads (and death tolls) than the US because they, unlike us, have strong national quarantine and contact-tracing programs. One or two cases can put an entire Taiwanese or Australian city (or all of New Zealand) into quarantine.

      Vaccine supplies are constrained everywhere, not just in Taiwan. They are even short in India, which has more vaccine manufacturing capacity than any other country on earth. This is a world-wide situation; that’s what “pandemic” means. Just because Americans, Israelis, and some Western Europeans have comparatively high vaccination rates does not make that the global norm.

      1. Actually, Taiwan had 351 cases on Monday and 327 cases yesterday (Tuesday – it is already Wednesday in Taiwan). Social distancing and working from home are not quite the same in a country with 1,704 people per square mile (Taiwan) vs. 87 per square mile (US). This is a big concern since Covid is so highly contagious. Add to that that many seniors live with extended family… it is nearly impossible to protect the most vulnerable. And yes, China is directly blocking vaccines to Taiwan. China has spoken out against Japan’s planned half million dose donation to Taiwan. However, seeing how important the Taiwan Strait is to Japan’s shipping lanes, I see Japan siding with their ally Taiwan on this one.

        1. Certainly the virus is a threat in Taiwan, but effective public health measures since January 2020 have kept the national death toll to 124. Florida has had 36,773. Texas has had 51,673 deaths with only about 25% more people than Taiwan. The median age in Taiwan is six years older than in Texas, and the average income in Taiwan is about half that in Texas. Still, there are 416 dead Texans for every dead Taiwanese.

          Vaccines are highly effective, but Taiwan proves that aggressive public health measures can be highly effective, too.

          1. I think the point of the article is that Taiwan is struggling to get vaccines and if there were any Covid cases among Apple suppliers, it would negatively affect the supply of Apple products such as the iPhone 13, any products using TSMC chips (A15 and M Series) or other components. I don’t think this is about which country has had more cases or more deaths. I suppose even a small number of cases (not deaths) within one factory could shut things down in Taiwan.

            1. Your points are absolutely correct, but I was primarily interested in pointing out that there is no real reason to panic about disruptions to the Apple supply chain, since Taiwan has been handling the pandemic remarkably well since January of last year. They managed it without vaccines, and they can continue to do it until they get vaccines. They did it with effective contact-tracing and quarantine measures that America never seriously attempted.

              There is no reason to suppose that the Taiwanese are suddenly going to drop all the public health measures that have kept their death toll over that entire period to a level that the US has been matching or exceeding every day for over a year (and exceeded as recently as yesterday). The US is almost 12,000 kilometers from the People’s Republic of China. The closest point under Taiwanese control is only about ten kilometers away, yet they controlled the spread of the virus from mainland China better by orders of magnitude than the US did.

              Taiwan is the proof that the United States Government did not handle the first year of the pandemic well enough to avoid a death toll that is hundreds of times higher.

      2. Taiwan is not proof that the US did not handle the pandemic well. What were Americans to do? Lockdown earlier? Stop essential services and close essential businesses? Taiwan has firm geographic boarders – US doesn’t. All Taiwanese adults have first hand experience with SARS – Americans don’t. Taiwan is geographically smaller and has a smaller population to manage – US is larger on both counts – logistics matter. Taiwan, while close to China, has a natural aversion and distrust of anything “Chinese” which led to the earliest travel bans of the pandemic – the US was criticized for banning even just some international travel. Taiwanese, while living in a free and democratic society, are willing to give up some liberties in exchange for increased protection – the Constitution of the United States does not allow for such restrictions to be placed on Americans – American. Comparing Taiwan’s and the US’s virus response is unrealistic.

        Cases spiked in Taiwan on Wednesday with 540 cases – breaking a weeklong downward trend. As most of the world knows, the Wuhan slope is slippery and steep. Taiwan is already at ‘Level 3’ which is one step away from ‘Level 4.’

        With China blocking Taiwan’s access to vaccines (going back to the original article), Taiwan is going to be in a world of hurt soon. And so will Apple.

  2. According to news on the ground in Taiwan, about 60% of the population will have received their first shot by October. Add about 8 to 10 weeks beyond that for the second dose / fully vaccinated. That puts Taiwan and a significant chunk of Apple’s supply chain in the danger zone until at least November or December unless the vaccination rate increases.

  3. Many of the global pharmaceutical companies’ Asian headquarters are in Asia. As a result, China’s neighbors are unable to purchase vaccines without the Communist Party’s blessings. So, Taiwan is screwed. Now, China being the nice neighbor that they are, did offer vaccines to Taiwan. But, Taiwan politely declined the commies’ generous offer since no sane person would wants a jab of China’s home-brewed vax. Made in China… the virus AND the vax!

  4. Biden ought to make a bigger deal about how he is sending vaccines to other countries. That might motivate people in the US to “stop him” by getting the vaccines themselves.

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