Hong Kong residents to be offered vaccinations by the end of 2021: health secretary

Hong Kong’s health secretary says she is confident that all of its residents will be offered Covid vaccines by the end of 2021.

The city has signed agreements to obtain more than enough doses for its population, Hong Kong Food and Health Secretary Sophia Chan told CNBC’s “Capital Connection” on Tuesday.

Responding to a question about when Hong Kong could achieve herd immunity, Chan said authorities are still assessing the response to vaccines and are watching the delivery procurement schedule. He did not provide a timeline for when the city could achieve herd immunity, a situation where enough of the population have become immune to a disease, so that it effectively stops spreading rampant.

“We are pretty sure that by the end of the year … everyone in Hong Kong will have a chance to get vaccinated,” he said.

Chan added that more than 22 million doses of Covid vaccines have already been ordered.

Hong Kong has a population of around 7.5 million and began implementing its vaccination campaign in late February. It has signed agreements to purchase vaccines from China’s Sinovac Biotech, Europe’s Oxford-AstraZeneca, as well as one supplied by Shanghai-based Fosun Pharma and its partner, German pharmaceutical company BioNTech.

Customers buy fresh vegetables at a street market shop in Hong Kong on March 8, 2021.

Anthony Wallace | AFP | fake images

Chan said people seem “quite enthusiastic” about the vaccination so far, but acknowledged that it is still being implemented in phases and that it is not yet available to the entire population.

He also said that experts are reviewing the reasons behind adverse events, including at least two deaths after vaccination.

“Our scientific committee has initially provided the information that it has nothing to do with vaccination. That is, they do not find any direct causality with the vaccine,” he said.

Separately, Chan chimed in when Hong Kong would relax its coronavirus restrictions, saying city authorities will be “very careful” in doing so.

He said the situation remains “a bit shaky” because unrelated cases are still being reported even though new cases are low.

“We want to really contain … and cut the chains of transmission in a community because we don’t want any clusters to come out,” he said.

On Tuesday, Hong Kong reported 21 new cases, bringing the total number of infections to at least 11,121, according to the local health authority.


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