back to article Foxconn builds stuff for everyone. Now it finds vaccines for Taiwan, and TSMC's chipped in, too

The Taiwanese government has approved a plan for tech titans Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) and Foxconn to purchase and donate 10 million doses of COVID-19 jabs as the country seeks to increase its rate of vaccination. The decision was reached following a 1.5-hour meeting between President Tsai Ing-wen, …

  1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    Well one thing's for sure

    It's already too late to buy shares in pharmaceutical companies.

    These guys are going to be posting insane revenues for 2020, 2021 and likely 2022.

    It must be good being CEO of one of those companies these days. You can practically decide your bonus on a whim.

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: Well one thing's for sure

      AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson are selling the vaccines at cost. So there'll be no huge jumps in their profits. So it's mostly Moderna and Pfizer/BioNtech that'll be laughing all the way to the bank.

      Although they were also the first two to get doses out the door at scale, with AZ and Sinopharm just behind. And I'd imagine they'll have to cut their prices, when selling to the developing world. As production is still increasing rapidly, there's going to be a lot of vaccines around towards the end of this year, beginning of next.

      1. DS999 Silver badge

        Re: Well one thing's for sure

        The real profit for Pfizer/Biontech and Moderna will come in the future thanks to proof of the safety of mRNA based vaccines. They are years ahead of where they would have been had they had to follow the usual small scale testing and long wait before moving onto the market.

        1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

          Re: Well one thing's for sure

          DS999,

          I strongly suspect that this pandemic is going to end up saving more lives than it costs - simply by having accelerated the adoption, testing and commercialisation of mRNA vaccines by 5-10 years.

          BioNtech, who'd admittedly been researching coronavirus vaccines already, got the genetic sequence of the virus from China and had the vaccine protein designed within an evening. The rest was "just" testing and logistics.

          Which I suspect means that in the next 2-3 years we're going to have an awful lot of vaccines for diseases where it would previously have been too expensive (and/or complex) to get vaccines out the door. Plus an awareness of how cheap and amazing vaccines are from donor governments.

          To its credid, the UK government has been banging this drum internationally for 20 years, and has been one of the main funders - we also upped that funding last year, not just for coronoavirus, but for the next decade. If only a few other rich governments join in, it could make a big difference. But also the prices are coming down, so billionaires like Buffet could make a significant difference with just a few billion.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Well one thing's for sure

            I hope you are right. I'm watching side effects and mostly concerned for the young people. I hope the Taiwan version is better than that of Phizer Molderna. The heart damage is very concerning.

            1. DS999 Silver badge

              Re: Well one thing's for sure

              The heart damage affects very few people. Look up the statistics for how many suffer similar heart damage due to infection by coronavirus. Its not even a contest, taking the vaccine will result in fewer problems than not doing so.

              Obviously they need to study what is causing this, and see if it really is the vaccine (which would be odd, considering how incredibly simple its ingredients are) is merely a coincidence, or is some type of contamination of some lots during the manufacturing process.

          2. DS999 Silver badge

            Re: Well one thing's for sure

            Yes it is truly impressive how new vaccines can now be developed essentially overnight. Someday soon we might have production ready pre-approved vaccine "blanks" by the millions awaiting the addition of the RNA blueprint to stop the next pandemic before it can get started.

  2. NIck Hunn

    Fake News Headline

    "Vaccine" and "chipped" in the same headline! What audience are you trying to attract?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Fake News Headline

      The anti-vaxers will got more nuts than usual.

      1. TimMaher Silver badge
        Alien

        Re: anti-vaxers

        So true.

        Especially if it’s a 5g, Bill Gates chip with WiFi 6e built in.

        Can you be turned off just under the chin?

        1. Jim Mitchell Silver badge
          Boffin

          Re: anti-vaxers

          That gives me an idea. Can they develop a feline version? I would like my cat to be a bio-powered wifi repeater when he insists on sitting on my lap whilst in part of the house without good reception.

        2. DS999 Silver badge

          Magnetism

          I'm more interested in becoming "magnetic" like some of the idiots in the US believe. It seemed like a pretty powerful ability for Magneto, I wonder how many Pfizer jabs I'll need before I can control metal with my mind?

          1. gandalfcn Silver badge

            Re: Magnetism

            They also believe the Earth is flat and gravity is actually magnetism.

    2. John Doe 12

      Re: Fake News Headline

      Came here to say that exact thing - but seems like many others were thinking the same :-D

  3. Nifty Silver badge

    "The cost of the BioNTech procurement effort is expected to exceed $216m. The agreement comes with the stipulation that the doses are to be sent to Taiwan directly from the manufacturer in Germany."

    I'd heard in other news that China is successfully leaning on Germany to prevent BioNtech from supplying Taiwan directly:

    https://www.taiwannews.com.tw/en/news/4227222

    Beijing adamant Taiwan must go through China for BioNTech vaccines

    It's all very murky.

    1. DS999 Silver badge

      Maybe that's why the deal with TSMC and Foxconn is on the table - to get an end run around that interference.

      China relies on Foxconn and TSMC as economic drivers (even though TSMC can't sell leading edge stuff to Chinese companies anymore, they sell a lot of chips based on older processes which China doesn't have sufficient capacity to build themselves yet) so they'd find it more difficult to put the screws on them.

    2. thames

      Taiwan placed their main bet on the AztraZeneca vaccine, with that to be half of the total ordered vaccine supply. The other half was split between Moderna and Biontech.

      They got some AstraZeneca type vaccine from the South Korean licensee, but the big global exporter was supposed to be India, who aren't exporting any now. Europe refused to export any to them (or to anyone else).

      The US cut off exports of Moderna and only a trickle was coming out of Europe to anyone.

      Biontech have a 50 - 50 joint venture with a Chinese company called Fosun to cover the China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Macao markets. This is comparable to Biontech's joint venture with Pfizer for the rest of the world.

      Fosun are providing the money and Biontech providing the technology to produce the Biontech vaccine. Fosun also handle sales, and they have imported vaccine from Biontech for the Hong Kong market already. Fosun's own plant is expected to be ready to ship vaccine this summer.

      Fosun have said they are happy to sell vaccine to Taiwan, but the Taiwanese government won't talk to them because it would be a political hot potato to spend tax money on vaccine bought through a Chinese company.

      Taiwan tried to buy directly from Biontech, but Biontech told them to go through the local sales agent, Fosun. You have to remember that for Biontech, vaccine is a business and they aren't going to tear up their contract with Fosun in order to please the political sensibilities of Taiwan's government.

      Taiwan also put a big bet on developing domestic vaccines, but those have taken longer to develop and go through trials than expected.

      Taiwan, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Thailand, and most other countries in the Far East are far behind Europe, the US, and Canada in getting their vaccination programs going. The exceptions are Singapore, China, and Mongolia. There are probably many reasons for that, but government purchasing strategy will be at the head of the list.

      So, the spin seems to be that it is all China's fault that the US, Europe, and India cut off Taiwan's vaccine supply and the Taiwanese government refused to deal with the local distributor of Biontech for domestic political reasons.

      Canada was in a similar position to Taiwan earlier this year. The US had cut off vaccine supplies and only a trickle was coming from Europe, India, and South Korea. At one point vaccine supplies from Europe were totally cut off. We could have bought vaccine from Russia or China, but that was unthinkable from a domestic political standpoint. Domestic vaccine production capacity is being built, but it won't be ready until the autumn.

      Over the past couple of months however growing quantities have been coming in, and now it's a flood. Things are looking fairly good. I expect the same will be true for Taiwan.

      The reason why Canada is in a better position than Taiwan is that Taiwan ordered when they were sure the vaccines were going to work and only as much as they needed. Canada placed big advance orders with cash in advance before it was known whether any of the vaccines would work and we ordered seven times as much as we needed on the assumption that some of those orders would not be able to be delivered.

      Most of the world are worse off than Taiwan, with many countries not having received a single dose of vaccine yet.

      What will probably happen with respect to the news story is that Foxconn and TSMC are worried about their Taiwanese plants getting shut down, so they want to buy vaccine from Biontech to distribute in Taiwan. Biontech will probably point them to Fosun, Fosun will import it from Biontech and collect their commission while they sell to Foxconn and TSMC, Foxccon and TSMC won't say where they got it from, and everybody will be happy.

      1. gandalfcn Silver badge

        "Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council said that vaccine procurement is a commercial activity and does not require signing any cross-strait agreements. Private enterprises can purchase vaccines as long as they are compliant with relevant regulations, the council said, adding the government is thankful for everyone who is helping the nation obtain inoculations."

    3. gandalfcn Silver badge

      Why didn't you read the article you cited?

      "Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council said that vaccine procurement is a commercial activity and does not require signing any cross-strait agreements. Private enterprises can purchase vaccines as long as they are compliant with relevant regulations, the council said, adding the government is thankful for everyone who is helping the nation obtain inoculations."

      So you heard what?

    4. gandalfcn Silver badge

      I suggest you should have read the article : "Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council said that vaccine procurement is a commercial activity and does not require signing any cross-strait agreements. Private enterprises can purchase vaccines as long as they are compliant with relevant regulations, the council said, adding the government is thankful for everyone who is helping the nation obtain inoculations."

      So no problem.

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