TAIPEI—Taiwan is struggling with the pandemic, short on vaccines and locked in a geopolitical fight with China over access to the shot BioNTech SE co-developed with Pfizer Inc.
Now, in a twist, two of the world’s most important technology players—who also happen to be Taiwan’s two best-known homegrown companies—are stepping in to buy millions of BioNTech doses on behalf of the Taiwanese government.
BioNTech and Shanghai Fosun Pharmaceutical Co. , which is licensed to distribute BioNTech’s vaccine in China, said in a joint statement Sunday that they would sell 10 million shots to Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. , Hon Hai Precision Industry Co. —the iPhone assembler better known as Foxconn—and a private charity controlled by Foxconn founder Terry Gou.
The vaccines, which will be purchased through a drug distributor, will then be donated to the Taiwan Centers for Disease Control for local vaccination, the statement said. TSMC and Foxconn said Monday that the total value of the donation, split between the two companies and Mr. Gou’s charity, amounted to about $350 million, covering the cost of vaccines, transportation and insurance. The first batch of doses will be delivered by the end of September, they said.
The roundabout arrangement effectively ends a monthslong geopolitical impasse over whether Taiwan’s government could buy vaccines directly from Mainz, Germany-based BioNTech.