Taiwanese authorities aim to have at least 20 per cent of the population inoculated against Covid-19 by the end of the month after doses from Japan and the United States helped to ease a vaccine shortage, the island’s leader said on Tuesday.
“We hope to increase the vaccination rate from currently 10 per cent to between 20 and 25 per cent before the end of July if we want to have a meaningful prevention of the pandemic,” President Tsai Ing-wen said in a public video address.
The self-ruled island of 23.5 million has been fighting a spike in cases since late April – its worst outbreak since the pandemic began – but the situation is stabilising and Taiwan’s cabinet on Monday said there was room for “reasonable adjustments” to restrictions on public activities.
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As the outbreak worsened between mid-May and mid-June, the island reported a daily high of 723 new cases on May 22 and a record 37 deaths on June 5.
On Tuesday, it recorded 29 new cases and 17 deaths, taking the total to 15,088 infections and 706 deaths since the start of the pandemic, according to the Central Epidemic Command Centre.
The island-wide outbreak has prompted many to seek vaccinations, but authorities have struggled to secure enough doses and are waiting for more than 20 million on order, including from AstraZeneca and Moderna.
Officials from the central command centre said the vaccine shortage was eased in June by the donation of 1.24 million doses of AstraZeneca from Japan and 2.5 million Moderna jabs from the US.
President Tsai said Japan had announced on Tuesday it was sending more doses to the island.
“We will take delivery [on Wednesday] of 620,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine which we previously ordered, and a shipment of another 1.13 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine donated to us by Japan’s government will arrive on [Thursday],” Tsai said.
“With these two shipments, Taiwan has so far acquired more than 7 million vaccine doses.”
Suppliers had been asked to deliver vaccines to Taiwan as soon as possible and the authorities were also seeking new deals to make sure there were sufficient doses for the population, Tsai said.
She urged more Taiwanese to get vaccinated, saying that only with more people getting at least one jab would the island be able to gradually achieve the herd immunity needed to guard against the pandemic and return to normal life.
So far, just 10 per cent of Taiwan’s population have had a first dose – way behind the global average of 24.2 per cent as of Tuesday.
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