Taiwan on Sunday received 2.5 million doses of the Covid-19 vaccine made by Moderna and donated by the US, which leaders said would significantly speed up the island nation’s vaccination campaign, amid its worst outbreak to date.
The delivery, by Taiwanese carrier China Airlines, was greeted by Taiwan’s Health Minister Chen Shih-chung and Brent Christensen, director of the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT), which acts as the de facto US embassy, at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport.
“The arrival of 2.5 million US-made doses on Sunday will help Taiwan control the pandemic,” Chen, who heads Taiwan’s Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC), said at the airport.
“This donation reflects our commitment to Taiwan as a trusted friend and an important security partner,” AIT said in a statement.
“A friend in need is a friend indeed,” Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen said in a televised speech later on Sunday, expressing her deep appreciation to the US.
Tsai also thanked Japan, which sent Taiwan 1.24 million doses of the Covid-19 vaccine made by AstraZeneca earlier this month.
Tsai said late Saturday that Taiwan would work closely with like-minded democracies on issues ranging from the coronavirus to peace in the region, in a post on Facebook.
Since the pandemic began, Taiwan, with 23.6 million people, has confirmed a total of 14,005 infections. On Sunday, the death toll reached 549.
In late May, Tsai slammed China for blocking a deal between Taiwan and the German pharmaceutical firm BioNTech for supplies of the Pfizer/BioNTech jab.
On Friday, Tsai’s administration authorized Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company, and Yonglin Foundation, to each buy 5 million doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine from Germany for future use.