TAIPEI, May 29 (Reuters) - Terry Gou, the billionaire
founder of major Apple Inc supplier Foxconn, said on
Saturday his charity plans to apply to import 5 million doses of
BioNTech SE's COVID-19 vaccine into Taiwan, which is
tackling a spike in infections.
After recording just a handful of daily infections for
months, Taiwan is currently dealing with relatively large
numbers of community transmissions. It has only vaccinated
around 1% of its more than 23 million people, though it has
almost 30 million shots on order, from AstraZeneca Plc,
Moderna Inc and two domestic firms.
The Chinese-claimed island has blamed Beijing for nixing a
deal earlier this year for BioNTech vaccines, which China
denies. Facing pressure from opposition parties, the government
says it will allow companies to apply to it to import vaccines.
In a statement, Gou said that his Yonglin Foundation plans
to apply for 5 million BioNTech doses made and packaged in
Germany to be imported into Taiwan.
The shots would be airlifted from Germany to Taiwan without
going via any middleman, he added.
"This plan is in process," Gou said.
BioNTech did not immediately respond to a request for
comment, but it has repeatedly declined to comment on the state
of talks with Taiwan.
Taiwan's Central Epidemic Command Centre said shortly before
Gou's statement was released that it welcomed any offers of help
from charities or religious groups, but it was up to the central
government to sign vaccine contracts and distribute shots.
Shanghai Fosun Pharmaceutical Group Co Ltd has a
contract with BioNTech to sell the vaccines in Greater China,
including to Taiwan, but Taiwan's government says it has and
will only deal with BioNTech in Germany, and that it does not
trust vaccines from China.
Outside of Greater China, BioNTech has partnered with Pfizer
China says Taiwan has gone against commercial principles in
seeking to bypass Fosun and go directly to BioNTech.
Gou said his charity would not import Chinese-made vaccines.
"Please do not confuse the German-made BioNTech (shots) with
Taiwan has reported 7,806 infections since the pandemic
began, including 99 deaths.
(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Kirsten Donovan)