TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan will provide Taiwan with 1.24 million doses of AstraZeneca PLC’s coronavirus vaccine for free, Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi said on Friday, just hours before the shipment was due to be delivered.
Taiwan is battling a spike in domestic infections and has vaccinated less than 3% of its population. Japan has contracted to procure more than 300 million doses of coronavirus vaccines from Pfizer Inc, Moderna Inc and AstraZeneca, more than enough to cover its entire population.
“The relationship between Taiwan and Japan has always been extremely close, and our friendship is firm and deep,” Taiwan’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement. “Whenever disasters or accidents occur, both sides immediately lend a helping hand to each other and send help in the hour of need.”
Japan approved AstraZeneca’s vaccine last month and has contracted to buy 120 million doses. But there are no immediate plans to use the shots, amid lingering concerns raised internationally over blood clots.
(Reporting by Kiyoshi Takenaka and Rocky Swift in Tokyo, Ben Blanchard in Taipei; Editing by Christopher Cushing & Simon Cameron-Moore)