TAIPEI (Reuters) - Taiwan has sought Germany’s help in securing COVID-19 vaccines, Economy Minister Wang Mei-hua said on Thursday, after Berlin asked for the island’s assistance in easing a shortage of automobile semiconductor chips.
Wang told reporters she made the request at a meeting with Germany’s de facto ambassador in Taipei, who handed her a letter seeking help to resolve the shortage, which is hampering the European nation’s fledgling economic recovery from the pandemic.
At their meeting on Wednesday, Wang said, she told the head of the German mission in Taipei that she hoped Germany could “assist Taiwan in obtaining vaccines within the feasible range”.
Germany’s Economy Ministry declined comment.
In the letter, German Economy Minister Peter Altmaier asked Wang to help persuade manufacturers in Taiwan, home to the world’s largest contract chipmaker and one of Germany’s main suppliers, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co Ltd (TSMC), to ease the chip shortage.
Wang met senior chip executives this week who pledged to help tackle the problem.
Late last month, Taiwan said it had agreed to buy almost 20 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine, including 10 million from AstraZeneca Plc, with the first to start arriving from March.
Another 4.76 million are expected to come from global vaccine programme COVAX, but the government has given no details of which company may supply the rest.
Pfizer Inc has jointly developed with Germany’s BioNTech SE one of the main vaccines which is now being rolled out worldwide.
Countries are battling vaccine shortages worldwide. Germany’s health minister said on Thursday he expected the current shortage to persist into April.
Taiwan has kept the pandemic well under control thanks to early and effective prevention, with 896 cases, including seven deaths. Most the infections have been imported from abroad and only 79 people are now in hospital.
Reporting by Jeanny Kao and Ben Blanchard; Additional reporting by Michael Nienaber in Berlin; Editing by Toby Chopra
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