The Ministry of Economic Affairs arranged for eight major retailers to start selling Abbott test kits on the 9th, but at almost twice the price of price-controlled kits.
Taiwan's COVID-19 case count is setting new records every day, but there are no price-controlled rapid test kits available. The Ministry of Economic Affairs arranged for eight major retailers to start selling Abbott test kits on the 9th. As the kits are being sold for NT$180 each -- almost double that of price-controlled kits -- there weren't many takers.
Citizen: “Schools are only handing out one test kit per student. It's not enough. At least prices are still reasonable.”
Hsu Yi-ju, Senior Manager, Convenience Store: “Abbott supplies are what stores have on hand and sales are limited to one kit per person.”
Citizens and lawmakers alike are blasting the government over the shortage. Kuomintang lawmakers are questioning why the Central Epidemic Command Center chose the unqualified Golden Global Biomedicine Co. to be Taiwan's rapid test kit procurer and asked who profited under the table from this deal. Golden Global eventually withdrew its tender. Ruling lawmakers, however, say the shortage is due to panic buying caused by the sensationalist media and the KMT is trying to sow chaos.
Wu Ping-jui, Legislator (DPP): “One side is that there's a shortage and a rush to import test kits. The other is restricting unqualified companies from importing them to prevent conspiracy.”
Tsai Shou-chuan, Chief Secretary, Ministry of Health and Welfare: “From April 28 to May 2, a thorough assessment was conducted. The approved companies are the ones we extended invitations to, that have EUAs. In principle, it was a fair and transparent process.”
Lai Shyh-bao, Legislator (KMT): “The entire world wants to save Taiwan, but Taiwan's government is completely impotent. President Tsai said there would be 100 million test kits available by the end of May. Do any agency heads or deputy heads want to tell me which brands will be available?”
Tsai Shou-chuan, Chief Secretary, Ministry of Health and Welfare: “The 100 million will probably be Roche and Abbott, and there will be some other purchased ones.”
DPP lawmaker Wu Ping-jui says the "only" standard that matters for emergency purchases is quality, brand, and price, and not the size of the company. Ministry of Health and Welfare Chief Secretary Tsai Shou-chuan says the Tsai administration publicly explained its emergency purchase procedure twice and Golden Global probably dropped out after taking a look at its finances.