Washington has shipped 2.5 million doses of the Covid-19 vaccine to Taipei, US State Department spokesman Ned Price tweeted on Saturday. The Moderna photos are expected to arrive Sunday evening local Taiwan time, according to the island’s foreign ministry.
After a very successful first attempt to reduce the number of cases, Taiwan is now battling its first major epidemic and struggling to combat its low vaccination rate: only 6 doses have been administered per 100,000 people.
China, which considers Taiwan to be an integral part of its territory, has repeatedly offered to send coronavirus vaccines to the island. Taipei has raised concerns about the safety of Chinese injections and accused Beijing of blocking efforts to buy vaccines internationally.
On June 6, the United States pledged to donate 750,000 doses of the Covid-19 vaccine to Taiwan, which Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-Wen called “timely rain” for the island of around 24 millions of inhabitants.
US Senators who traveled to Taiwan to make the announcement arrived aboard a US Air Force C-17 Globemaster III freighter. A primary strategic lift for the US military on a Taiwanese runway has been seen as a major provocation for Beijing, as military tensions in the region escalate.
State nationalist tabloid Global Times said the move “opened the way for the United States and Taiwan to further escalate their collusion.”
Taiwan was previously touted as one of the global success stories in controlling Covid-19, but has now reported nearly 14,000 cases and 538 deaths, according to the island’s Centers for Disease Control.
After Saturday’s announcement, President Tsai expressed her gratitude to the Biden administration and the bipartisan support of the US Congress on its social media platforms.
“Thank you to the #US for this touching gesture of friendship. These vaccines will go a long way in ensuring the safety and health of #Taiwan,” she said. tweeted
Earlier this month, Biden announced that the United States plans to donate 500 million doses of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine globally as part of its efforts to reaffirm U.S. leadership on the world stage.