Taiwan will allow Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) and Foxconn to buy 10 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines on behalf of the government, as companies race to safeguard the island’s flagship tech industry from the pandemic.
It is the first time private companies in Taiwan will be given permission to purchase vaccines, a move that comes as the government struggles to quickly inoculate people. The self-governing island, which was seen as a global role model for containing the deadly virus early on, has experienced a sudden surge in local infections since the middle of last month.
“Both TSMC and Foxconn’s Yonglin Foundation proposed to donate 5 million [BioNtech] vaccine doses to Taiwan,” government spokesperson Lo Ping-cheng told a news conference on Friday. BioNtech is a German pharmaceutical company.
Taiwan has been gripped by a serious COVID outbreak since mid-May that has killed more than 450 people in less than a month. The rise in cases has also threatened to disrupt the round-the-clock production that many tech manufacturing plants rely on, which could further worsen the ongoing global chip shortage.
But Taiwan has struggled to secure vaccines due to geopolitical issues. China views the island as part of its territory, and Taiwan is not a formal member of the World Health Organization. President Tsai has accused China of interfering in her government’s attempt to buy BioNtech vaccines, a claim that Beijing denies. Taiwanese Foreign Minister Joseph Wu said it is difficult for Taiwan to get enough vaccines from COVAX, a global COVID vaccine-sharing platform led by the WHO.
MacDailyNews Take: Apple could, and should, have done this long ago, but is far too beholden to China to risk any blowback. And, so, it’s TSMC and Foxconn, companies with leaders who have intestinal fortitude, who ride to the rescue!