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Covid-19 inoculations may start only by end of Feb

26 January 2021

By The SUN 

The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine will be given out first

Hong Kong’s mass vaccination for the coronavirus will be pushed back to the end of February due to procurement “hiccups” for the three vaccines it has already bought from various sources.

Chief Executive Carrie Lam made the announcement today, Jan 26, as she revealed that she had sought the Central Government’s help to secure supplies from the state-owned pharmaceutical company Sinopharm during her visit to Beijing last November.

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“We have been very concerned about the supply of vaccines for Hongkongers because this is really the light at the end of the tunnel,” Lam said before her weekly Executive Council meeting, in explaining her quest for help from mainland authorities.

“(But) the three vaccines that we have advance-purchased so far all have a little bit of hiccup,” she said.

“At the same time, we have a desperate need for vaccination among high-risk groups and cross-border workers,” she said

Lam’s government had secured a total of 22,500 doses of vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech, Sinovac’s CoronaVac and AstraZeneca-Oxford University. However, the delivery of the vaccines had been delayed despite the advance purchase agreements.

“For the one that has been authorized by the secretary for food and health … the supply will only come by the end of February from Germany,” she said, referring to the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.


This is the first vaccine approved for use in the SAR and a million doses are expected to arrive in the second half of next month, further pushing forward the planned start of the vaccination after the Lunar New Year, or around mid-February.  

The vaccine from Sinovac, which was initially expected to arrive later this month, has yet to be cleared for use as it has reportedly failed to submit enough data to the government. Thus, it appears to have been dropped from the government’s list for the time being.


A statement released on the government’s website on Jan 21 said experts under the Centre for Health Protection had focused only on the BioNTech and Astra Zeneca vaccines for the initial round of inoculations.

Both vaccines should be taken in two doses each, and the same type of vaccine should be given to each individual.

Medical frontliners and the elderly are among the first to get the jabs

First priority for the jabs are residents and staff of care homes for the elderly and people with disabilities at the top of the list for getting the Covid-19 vaccine in Hong Kong.

Next in line are medical workers or those in essential services that are at high risk of exposure to the coronavirus, and residents aged 60 years and above.

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On third priority are persons with chronic medical problems aged between 16 and 59 years.

No mention was made of other residents not in the designated categories, indicating they are not likely to be included in the first round of vaccinations.

Two experts advising her vaccination program and anti-pandemic strategy, however, warned Hong Kong must wait for a third round of clinical data published in medical journals before rolling out mass inoculations.

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Prof Ivan Hung told a radio show this morning the third round of clinical data is the most important thing for adopting a vaccine. Sinopharm has yet to provide such a prerequisite.

“Without this information, it is difficult for the [vaccination] committee to vet and recommend its use. People’s health is the most important consideration,” Hung said.

Sinopharm has said that its vaccine is 70 percent effective, but has yet to publish any data in medical journals.

Researchers in Brazil, meanwhile, said they found the Sinovac jabs just around 50% effective, far lower than the published efficacy rates for the BioNTech and AstraZeneca vaccines.


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