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Photo: SAM YEH/AFP via Getty Images

The United States is shipping 2.5 million vaccine doses to Taiwan as the island faces its first major coronavirus outbreak, State Department spokesman Ned Price announced Saturday.

The big picture: The United States initially pledged to donate 750,000 doses, but the number increased after President Biden said the United States would send 80 million shots made in the U.S. around the world, per Reuters, which first reported on the shipment.

Between the lines: Taiwan has been blaming China for the country's inability to acquire Pfizer-BioNTech doses, but Chinese officials say the accusations are "fabricated out of nothing," the New York Times reports.

  • Shanghai Fosun Pharmaceutical Group Co. Ltd. claims the exclusive right to sell Pfizer shots in China, Taiwan and Hong Kong.
  • China had recently offered to donate vaccines to Taiwan, but the Taiwanese government expressed concern about the safety and efficacy of Chinese vaccine shots, Reuters notes.

What they're saying: "We know that Taiwan has faced unfair challenges in its efforts to acquire vaccines, which makes this donation even more important," a senior Biden administration official told the Times.

  • "We have had a close partnership with Taiwan on global health issues and have been working together throughout the pandemic. Taiwan was there to help the United States in the earliest days of the pandemic, providing P.P.E. and other lifesaving materials," they added.
  • "We believe that these attempts by China to block purchases, for political purposes, are reprehensible," an administration official told Reuters.

By the numbers: Taiwan has reported a total of 13,959 confirmed virus cases and 538 deaths as of Saturday, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

  • On May 22, the country reported more than 700 new daily cases, the highest since the start of the pandemic. Numbers have since gone down, with 187 new cases reported on Friday.

Go deeper

Updated 11 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Vaccines: CDC says some immunocompromised people can get fourth COVID shot — FDA panel endorses Pfizer vaccines for 5-11 year olds — Moderna says vaccine shows strong immune response in kids
  2. Health: COVID cases, deaths at meat plants were far higher than previously thought — 96% of Tyson Foods employees vaccinated ahead of mandate deadline — U.S. releases updated vaccination, testing rules for foreign travelers
  3. Politics: Louisiana lifts mask mandate except for some schools — Alabama governor orders state agencies to fight federal vaccine mandate — Axios-Ipsos poll: Confidence in Biden COVID recovery tumbles
  4. Education: Benefits of vaccine for children outweigh risks, FDA says — Education secretary reveals limits to Biden’s mask push on states — LA extends deadline for school employee vaccinations.
  5. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.
Sep 24, 2021 - Health

Other drug companies want to help make the vaccines

Illustration: Megan Robinson/Axios

Generic drug companies have asked Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson to license their COVID-19 vaccine technology to help increase global production, but so far the vaccine makers have given them the cold shoulder.

Why it matters: Other companies are saying they have extra capacity to make more vaccines. Not using that extra capacity could prolong the pandemic throughout the world.

Sep 22, 2021 - Health

FDA approves Pfizer boosters for high-risk individuals, people 65 and up

Photo: Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

The Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday approved Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus booster shots for people at high risk of severe COVID-19 and people 65 years and older.

Driving the news: The approval comes just days after an FDA advisory panel recommended boosters for the two groups but overwhelmingly voted against the third shots for younger Americans.