Taiwan presses US on COVID-19 vaccines

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Taiwan on Friday pressed the United States for coronavirus vaccines in a meeting between Taiwan’s health minister and Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra.

Taiwan Health Minister Chen Shih-Chung said during the meeting that he asked Becerra for vaccines amid a spike in coronavirus cases, Reuters reported.

“More importantly, we brought up that Taiwan’s pandemic is increasing, and at this point we have an urgent need for vaccines, and hope he can support Taiwan when it comes to the vaccines the United States are going to release,” Chen said.

Becerra said that he would take the issue to President Biden, according to Chen.

Taiwan has seen a spike of over 1,800 coronavirus cases the past two weeks and has 700,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine. Over 400,000 of the doses arrived just this week, Reuters noted.

The Department of Health and Human Services addressed the meeting in a tweet. 

Great meeting with Minister Chen from Taiwan to discuss the ongoing pandemic & global health issues. The U.S. supports Taiwan’s ability to access vaccines, its contributions to health security, & its return to observership at the #WHA #LetTaiwanHelp,” the Office of Global Affairs for Health and Human Services posted on Twitter after the meeting.

The vaccine push for Taiwan has support from lawmakers in both parties.

Rep. Andy Barr (R-Ky.) on Friday sent a bipartisan letter, signed by over 60 lawmakers, to Secretary of State Antony Blinken saying the Biden administration should send vaccines to Taiwan.

“As Taiwan aided the United States in the early days of the pandemic through donations of PPE, the United States should continue to support our strong partnership through the provision of excess doses of COVID-19 vaccine to Taiwan,” the letter states.

China views Taiwan as a breakaway republic, and it pushed back at both Taiwan and the U.S. over the meeting.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian saying that Taiwan is using the coronavirus for “political manipulation,” according to Reuters.

China has blocked Taiwan from joining the World Health Assembly, the World Health Organization’s decision-making body. 

China recently accused the U.S. of threatening China’s sovereignty over Taiwan when the U.S. conducted a U.S. Navy operation in the Taiwan Strait.

Updated at 4:31 p.m.

Tags Andy Barr Antony Blinken COVID-19 vaccine Joe Biden Taiwan Taiwan World Health Assembly Xavier Becerra

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