Ma Xiaoguang, a spokesperson for China’s Taiwan Affairs Office, stated Thursday it was “purely fabrication” that Beijing had intervened in BioNTech’s vaccine sale to Taiwan, state information company Xinhua reported.A day earlier, Taiwanese well being minister Chen Shih-chung stated in a radio interview that Taiwan and BioNTech have been about to signal a deal for five million vaccine doses in December, when the corporate abruptly backed out.”In the method of (discussing the deal) I had at all times frightened that there could be exterior forces intervening,” Chen stated, with out naming any nation. “We consider there was political stress,” he stated. “Back then we had already ready our press launch. But sure individuals don’t need Taiwan to be too joyful.”In his assertion Thursday, Ma from China’s Taiwan Affairs Office additionally accused Taipei of making an attempt to “circumvent” BioNTech’s normal agent in Greater China, Shanghai Fosun Pharmaceutical Group.Fosun, a China-based firm, signed a “strategic collaboration” settlement with BioNTech final March giving it the rights to develop and commercialize the German drugmaker’s coronavirus vaccine throughout mainland China, Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan.But Chen stated the Taiwanese authorities had by no means been in contact with Fosun, and was speaking instantly with BioNTech in Germany as an alternative. BioNTech additionally had by no means requested Taiwan to barter with Fosun, he added.Fosun didn’t reply to CNN’s request for remark. Leading Taiwanese pharmaceutical firm TTY Biopharm, which was concerned in talks with BioNTech, declined to remark citing a confidentiality settlement reached between the 2 companies.In a press release Thursday, BioNTech stated discussions with Taiwan have been ongoing. “BioNTech is dedicated to assist bringing an finish to the pandemic for individuals internationally and we intend to provide Taiwan with our vaccine as a part of this international dedication,” the assertion stated.Concern that political stress may forestall the cope with BioNTech had saved Taiwanese well being minister Chen from publicly discussing it whereas negotiations have been underway, he stated in Wednesday’s interview.At a information convention Thursday, Chen welcomed BioNTech’s assertion and known as it “an initiative to ship goodwill.” “We hope we are able to keep it up and end our unique contract,” he stated.In December, when Taiwan and BioNTech have been near signing the deal, Chen introduced in a information convention that the self-ruled island had secured practically 20 million doses of coronavirus vaccines, together with 4.76 million by the COVAX initiative, 10 million from AstraZeneca, and one other 5 million from an organization “which is finishing the ultimate affirmation.”But quickly after that announcement, BioNTech backed out of the deal.While Chen didn’t title China, he made a thinly-veiled swipe at Beijing after going off air throughout a business break. “It’s identical to our (makes an attempt to) attend the World Health Assembly,” he stated to the host, referring to Beijing’s blocking of Taiwan from collaborating within the World Health Organization’s annual meeting as an observer since President Tsai Ing-wen took workplace in 2016.A frightening processThe stalling of the deal between Taiwan and BioNTech is the newest instance highlighting the difficulties within the international distribution of vaccines, which well being consultants say is integral to ending a pandemic that has killed greater than 2.4 million worldwide. Although a number of firms have overcome scientific hurdles to develop efficient Covid-19 vaccines, distributing them could be a daunting process, susceptible to disruption from numerous enterprise, political and geopolitical tensions.Beijing claims full sovereignty over Taiwan, a democracy of virtually 24 million individuals situated off the southeastern coast of mainland China, even supposing the 2 sides have been ruled individually for greater than seven many years.Chinese President Xi Jinping has vowed that Beijing won’t ever enable the island to develop into totally unbiased and has refused to rule out using pressure if mandatory. Cross-strait ties have frayed since Tsai’s independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) got here to energy, and the pandemic has additional strained relations.On Thursday, China’s Foreign Ministry hit out at Taipei, accusing it of “utilizing the pandemic as an excuse to interact in political manipulation and hype up political points.””The Democratic Progressive Party ought to … do some actual issues to advertise the well being and well-being of the individuals in Taiwan,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying stated at a briefing.Taiwan has been a uncommon success within the struggle towards coronavirus, due to its swift motion to ban incoming journey from mainland China on the onset of the outbreak in Wuhan, in addition to imposing strict border controls and quarantine necessities all through the pandemic. As of Friday, the island had solely reported 9 deaths and fewer than 1,000 infections — the vast majority of which have been imported instances.But on the subject of vaccination, Taipei has fallen behind many different Asian governments. Chen beforehand informed Taiwan’s state-run Central News Agency that the island may probably begin providing Covid-19 vaccines in June. Thanks to its profitable containment of the virus, Taiwan faces much less stress for a speedy rollout of mass vaccination, in distinction to hard-hit international locations just like the United States and Britain. China in the meantime has promised to make its vaccines a “international public good.” The Chinese authorities stated this month that it was offering vaccine support to 53 international locations, and had been exporting doses to 22 nations. Taiwan isn’t on the checklist of these recipients.