Taiwan is in negotiations with foreign organisations regarding COVID-19 vaccination passports, according to the president of the country’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday, which may help remove long-standing travel restrictions.
Taiwan had previously explored such a plan, but has been exceedingly wary of opening its mostly closed borders for fear of allowing in additional infections, and is presently on high alert to halt the highly contagious Delta strain.
Taiwan Centres for Disease Control Director-General Chou Jih-haw informed reporters that negotiations about vaccination passports had already begun with other countries and international organisations.
“We hope we can quickly get into step with the international community,” he said, without giving details.
The government is trying to speed a vaccination programme hobbled by supply delays, with around 7% of a population of 23.5 million having received at least one of the required two doses.
Chou said getting vaccines was still very difficult due to global shortages, but that they were working hard and he had no concrete timetable for when more might arrive.
Taiwan’s government said last week it would allow Terry Gou, the billionaire founder of Apple Inc (AAPL.O) supplier Foxconn (2317.TW), and Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co Ltd (2330.TW) to negotiate on its behalf for vaccines from Germany’s BioNTech SE (22UAy.DE).
Cabinet spokesman Lo Ping-cheng told the same news conference there was an “opportunity” for this plan to succeed.
“I want to emphasise that it is an opportunity, because there is almost no international use of this procurement method,” he said.
Taiwan is struggling with a cluster of domestic infections, virtually all of which are the previously globally prevalent Alpha strain, however numbers are stabilising and the epidemic is modest.
Nonetheless, the instances have alarmed the government, which has imposed restrictions on public gatherings and shuttered entertainment facilities.
Taiwan has only recorded five Delta variant cases to yet, according to Chou, all of which were imported and detected while undergoing the stringent two-week quarantine that all outside arrivals are subject to.