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Taiwan thanks Washington for COVID-19 vaccine pledge (update)

ROC Central News Agency

06/04/2021 04:40 PM

Taipei, June 4 (CNA) President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) is grateful that the United States will send 7 million COVID-19 vaccine doses to Taiwan and other Asian countries, especially at a time when Taiwan is facing its worst outbreak, Presidential Office spokesperson Xavier Chang (張惇涵) said Friday.

Chang said President Tsai thanked all of Taiwan's diplomats and others who have tried their best to secure vaccines for Taiwan, and she also thanked Americans across party lines for their support.

Tsai said she hoped Taiwan and the U.S. will continue cooperation efforts and jointly contribute to promoting global epidemic control and health care, and the world's welfare.

The U.S. announced on Thursday that it plans to share 80 million COVID-19 vaccine doses with countries around the world by the end of June, and of the first 25 million, 19 million will be distributed through the global vaccine-sharing program COVAX.

Of those, 7 million doses will go to India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Maldives, Malaysia, Philippines, Vietnam, Indonesia, Thailand, Laos, Papua New Guinea, Taiwan and the Pacific Islands, the White House said in a statement.

"We are sharing these doses not to secure favors or extract concessions. We are sharing these vaccines to save lives and to lead the world in bringing an end to the pandemic," U.S. President Joe Biden said in another statement.

On Friday, the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) released a statement reaffirming that Taiwan will be included in the first tranche of 25 million COVID-19 vaccines the U.S. is planning to share.

"The American people will never forget Taiwan's generosity in providing face masks and other emergency supplies during the early stages of the COVID-19 crisis in the United States," said the AIT, which represents American interests in Taiwan in the absence of formal links.

"As the pandemic surges in many locations in the Indo-Pacific, and amidst the severe global shortage of vaccines, the donations announced today will help Taiwan protect its most vulnerable populations," it said.

The institute called the vaccine contributions part of the ongoing cooperation between the U.S. and Taiwan to combat the spread of COVID-19 within their own communities and around the world.

"They will also complement Taiwan's ongoing procurement of high-quality American vaccines, including Moderna, and the generous donation of AstraZeneca vaccines Japan announced today."

The AIT did not say how many of the first 7 million vaccines earmarked for Asian countries will go to Taiwan, but said further details on the deliveries will be forthcoming.

Meanwhile, President Tsai Ing-wen on Friday pledged to continue working with other countries to ensure a steady supply of vaccines for Taiwan, during a public address livestreamed on various social media platforms.

She called for unity and asked people to refrain from engagingin verbal attacks against each other amid government and private sector efforts to secure vaccines, stressing that Taiwan's international status makes obtaining vaccines particularly difficult.

The president reiterated that Taiwan will launch a mass vaccination program soon, asking everyone to be patient. She also urged the public to only go out if necessary and follow COVID-19 prevention protocols as the entire nation remains under a Level 3 COVID-19 Alert.

As of Friday, Taiwan had confirmed a total of 10,446 COVID-19 cases, with over 9,000 of them domestic infections reported since May 15, when the country first recorded more than 100 cases in a single day, according to data released by the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC).

The number of confirmed COVID-19 deaths in the country has risen to 187, including 175 recorded since May 15, the CECC data showed.

CECC statistics also showed that as of Wednesday, 621,322 vaccine doses (all of the AstraZeneca brand) had been administered, for a population of 23.57 million people.

(By Wen Kuei-hsiang and Elizabeth Hsu)

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