TSMC and Foxconn Seal $350M Pact to Secure BioNTech Vaccines


Tech Giants in Taiwan, Foxconn and Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC), have finalized the purchase of 10 million BioNTech SE COVID-19 vaccine doses, estimated at about $350 million, on behalf of their nation.

This development was shared by Shanghai Fosun Pharmaceutical Group Co Ltd, the sales mediator for BioNTech in China, who announced the contract completion without setting a definitive schedule for vaccine delivery.

Despite efforts to procure the vaccine directly from BioNTech for a prolonged period, Taiwan faced hurdles, supposedly due to obstruction by Chinese authorities – a claim China has contested.

Facing criticism for delays in finalizing the vaccine deal and accelerating the vaccination drive, the government allowed Terry Gou, the founder of Foxconn, along with TSMC, to take over the negotiations for the vaccines.

Gou expressed his satisfaction with the achievement on his Facebook page, mentioning he was “gratified” with the successful negotiation. Foxconn and TSMC plan to acquire 5 million doses each, which will be contributed to the government for public distribution. Gou emphasized his commitment by stating, “But we can’t relax, as we will persistently strive to secure the delivery schedule and volume,” he posted.

“This ray of hope coming directly from the factory in Germany, I believe, will bolster the morale of the Taiwanese people and provide some relief amidst this pandemic,” Gou conveyed optimistically.

The vaccines will be provided to the government at no cost.

Government spokesperson Lo Ping-cheng mentioned ongoing efforts to procure more vaccines. He stated that negotiations are in place to secure 15 million doses of Moderna’s “next-generation” vaccines for the following year.

Taiwan has managed to keep the virus cases to a minimum, but its vaccination campaign has faced a slower rollout, with only about 10% of its 23.5 million inhabitants having received at least an initial dose of the two-dose regimen. The newly purchased doses aim to cover 40% of the population.

Foxconn and TSMC anticipate the inaugural BioNTech vaccine delivery might happen by September’s end, at the earliest. The quantity of the first batch remains undisclosed.

Addressing concerns of external influence, Gou clarified that the Chinese government did not meddle in the procurement discussions. “The negotiation phase after my donation proposal encountered no guidelines or intrusions from authorities in mainland China concerning the vaccine procurement,” he conveyed.

The deal signifies a strategic move for Foxconn and TSMC, not only to garner goodwill but to also prioritize health and safety, considering their prominent standing in the global semiconductor market.

BioNTech has acknowledged the deal’s fruition but cautiously referred to the region as “Taiwan region,” aligning with the geopolitical sensitivities in relation to China’s stance on Taiwan’s sovereignty.

Distancing from potential controversy, BioNTech’s Chinese representative Fosun promptly removed a statement from their WeChat post that quoted BioNTech CEO Ugur Sahin’s remarks expressing pleasure in supplying vaccines to Taiwan.

Beyond BioNTech, Taiwan has secured vaccine agreements with AstraZeneca and Moderna. As part of international aid, the United States and Japan have donated close to five million vaccine doses to assist in expediting Taiwan’s vaccination efforts. The Tzu Chi Foundation, a prominent Buddhist organization in Taiwan, is also working towards obtaining vaccines.

The support from Japan and the US for Taiwan’s vaccinations meant that China’s stance against the BioNTech deal could not be sustained without risking international reputation.

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