TAIPEI – People in Taiwan, who have endured COVID-19 throughout the global pandemic, are panicking this month about their health and income as the island struggles with its first major outbreak and hatch business amid limited vaccine supply.
Taiwan’s total coronavirus since the start of the global pandemic stood at 12,500 on Friday, with 385 deaths. More than 90% of the cases have been recorded since 15 May.
Officials in Taipei say their political rival China intervened in a vaccine deal earlier this year. Japan and the United States this month announced donations for vaccines to make up for the shortfall while officials try to order imports and quick trials of a native-made vaccine.
People have been “very worried” since mid-May and have started looking for vaccines despite possible side effects, said Joanna Lei, CEO of the Chunghua 21st Century think tank in Taiwan. Many Taiwanese with dual citizenship in the United States have jumped on American flights this month to get vaccinations.
Taiwan is “far” from the double-digit vaccine figure that can offer “herd immunity,” she said. It is estimated that 1% of Taiwan’s nearly 24 million people were vaccinated by mid-May.
“I think the scary part is that the government has no plan,” Lei said. ‘And they do not have a real survey of the country, because they did not do a broad test, and so they have no idea where things are happening. . ”
More than 84% of Taiwanese are worried about family members getting the coronavirus, and about 65% say their income will be ‘hit’, according to a survey by the Taiwanese Public Opinion Foundation released on May 25. More than half of the respondents call the current COVID-19 wave a ‘Disaster’ caused by humans rather than by nature.
“I see that people are all very nervous about whether their relatives will be infected by this virus,” said the foundation’s chairman, You Ying-lung. “You’ll see that a lot of people are very worried.”
Without vaccines, Taiwan is facing an unknown period of forced business strike and loss of revenue, especially in opportunities, leisure and restaurants. These businesses have been closed or scaled down since May 15th. Operators expect stimulus assistance from the government if business falls far enough before May 15.
“For us in terms of food and drink, we need to be optimistic about aid, because if it’s not enough, I can not sustain the business,” said Chien Chia-hsing, owner of the 6-year-old Aussie Café in Taipei. said. His normal daily customer tax of 50 dropped to just a handful picking up. “I hope the government can do its utmost to allocate money.”
Japan sent 1.24 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine last week despite a protest from China, Kyodo News Service, based in Tokyo, reported. Washington will donate 750,000 doses, U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth announced Sunday when she visited Taiwan with two other lawmakers.
“For more than a year, we have seen COVID-19 strike without regard to national borders – and we know we will not really be able to end the COVID-19 pandemic at home without ending it everywhere,” he said. senator said. her website.
Washington and Tokyo have been friends of Taiwan for years, as all three are concerned about territorial disputes or deeper political issues with China.
“You always want to help friends,” said Alex Chiang, associate professor of international politics at National Chengchi University in Taipei. “They need to show friendship and that they care about the people of Taiwan.”
Taiwanese officials blame China for overseas vaccines.
“Access to Taiwan for vaccines is still being delayed by Chinese intervention, while they are insisting that we buy Chinese manufacturers,” Presidential spokesman Kolas Yotaka said on Twitter on May 19.
Taiwan entered into an agreement with German pharmaceutical company BioNTech for millions of vaccine doses in January, but intervention by ‘external forces’ cleared the agreement, Health Minister Chen Shih-chung told local media a month later. said without naming China directly.
Taiwan is blocking Chinese vaccines because of their weak record ahead of COVID-19, Chen said in an interview in January. The government’s Central Epidemic Command Center does not want to say for this report how many vaccines it expects from foreign sources by the end of the year, but indicates ‘insufficient’ ability to make it worldwide.
China has been claiming self-governing Taiwan as part of its territory since the Chinese Civil War of the 1940s, when Chiang Kai-shek’s nationalists lost to the Communists and were reloaded in Taipei. Beijing has threatened to use force, if necessary, to take Taiwan and annoy foreign aid to the island.