Taiwan Envoy Calls BioNTech’s China Vaccine Rules ‘Ridiculous’

Taiwan’s top representative to Germany has hit out at BioNTech SE for granting a Chinese company exclusive rights to distribute its Covid-19 vaccine in Taiwan.

The German vaccine manufacturer signed a deal with Shanghai Fosun Pharmaceutical Group Co. last year, allowing it to market and distribute its vaccine in the Greater China region, covering mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan.

Taiwan Envoy Calls BioNTech’s China Vaccine Rules ‘Ridiculous’

“I have told the Germans that using the concept of the ‘Greater China region’ in life-critical vaccine procurement is ridiculous, especially when China is targeting Taiwan with over 1,000 missiles, and threatens Taiwanese with incursions of warplanes and warships,” Taiwan’s top diplomat to Germany Shieh Jhy-wey said in a Facebook post Tuesday.

Taiwan finally managed to secure 10 million doses of BioNTech’s vaccine through two agreements facilitated by Hon Hai Precision Industry Co. founder Terry Gou and chip giant Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. The two companies signed the purchase agreements with Shanghai Fosun and BioNTech, and plan to donate the doses to the government when they arrive in September.

While Shieh and others in Taiwan have criticized Greater China distribution deals for drugs, they are not uncommon in the sector, especially if a Chinese company has a sales presence in Taiwan.

In June, the Taiwan Food and Drug Administration approved a request from Innovent Biologics Inc., headquartered in Suzhou, China, to sell a cancer drug it has licensed from Wilmington, Delaware-based Incyte Corp. Several other Chinese companies have licensed drugs for cancer and autoimmune diseases from U.S. firms for the Greater China region, including Taiwan.

Taiwan’s government had for much of last year attempted to effectively sideline Fosun by negotiating directly with BioNTech. Shieh describes in his post how a deal had been agreed upon in January, with Taiwan even getting so far as signing its part of the contract and sending it to BioNTech for them to sign. But the agreement collapsed at the last minute after someone on BioNTech’s side raised objections to references in the paperwork to Taiwan as a country.

“Needless to say what happened next was ‘political interference’. From whom? It goes without saying,” Shieh wrote in an apparent reference to the Chinese government.

Despite his criticism of BioNTech for granting distribution rights for Taiwan to Fosun, Shieh did note that senior executives at BioNTech had been passionate about making sure the deal with Taiwan was completed.

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