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China's Fosun says willing to provide BioNTech vaccines to Taiwan

BEIJING, May 22 (Reuters) - China’s Shanghai Fosun Pharmaceutical Group Co Ltd is willing to provide Taiwan with BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines, its chairman Wu Yifang told Xinhua news agency, amid a spike in domestic infections on the island.

Fosun signed a deal with BioNTech to exclusively develop and commercialise COVID-19 vaccine products developed using BioNTech’s mRNA technology in mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan.

BioNTech’s development and distribution partner for the rest of the world is U.S. firm Pfizer Inc.

Wu said certain groups in Taiwan he did not name had been in touch for an emergency purchase of vaccines and the company was willing to “provide vaccine services to Taiwan compatriots”.

Since last year, Fosun has been promoting vaccines for Taiwan, Wu said, adding they hope shots can arrive on the island soon to help prevent a resurgent spread of the virus.

Fosun did not immediately reply to a Reuters request for comment.

Taiwan’s government has said it is talking with BioNTech rather than Fosun, and that the two sides were on the verge of announcing a deal in December when BioNTech pulled the plug.

Taiwan has implied China was to blame for the failed deal, while China has blamed Taiwan for trying to circumvent Fosun.

BioNTech said in February it planned to provide the vaccine to Taiwan, but has not provided further details and declined to comment on the progress of talks in a statement to Reuters this week.

China claims Taiwan as its own territory, and has repeatedly sparred with the island over the coronavirus pandemic. Taiwan has accused China of spreading fake news, which Beijing denies.

Taiwan has received only around 700,000 vaccine doses to date, all from AstraZeneca Plc, and those are rapidly running out as it steps up vaccinations during a spike in domestic infections.

Taiwan has millions more doses on order, including from Moderna Inc, but like many other parts of the world has faced delivery delays due to global shortages. (Reporting by Beijing newsroom; Writing by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Lincoln Feast.)

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