HONG KONG (AP) – Hong Kong suspended use of the Pfizer vaccine on Wednesday after its Chinese distributor informed the city that a batch had defective bottle caps.
The city government said the suspension was immediate while distributor Fosun Pharma and BioNTech, the German company that created the vaccine together with US drugmaker Pfizer, investigate the matter.
BioNTech and Fosun Pharma have found no reason to believe the product is unsafe, according to the statement. However, vaccinations will be stopped as a preventive and safety measure.
Defective caps were found on vaccines from batch number 210102. A separate batch of vaccines, 210104, will also not be administered.
Macau also said Wednesday that residents would not receive Pfizer vaccines from the affected flock.
BioNTech and Fosun Pharma could not immediately be reached for comment.
All community centers in Hong Kong that administer the Pfizer vaccine have temporarily suspended vaccines and residents who already scheduled appointments for Wednesday do not need to come to the centers, the government said.
Pfizer’s suspension of the injection means that the only vaccine currently offered to residents is the Sinovac vaccine from China. The two vaccines are the only ones offered to Hong Kong residents.
German expat Jannis Partsafas was among a group of people who were shot by Pfizer before the suspension.
“I got vaccinated this morning at 8.30 am before the news about the suspension of the vaccine was made public, and I heard the news on my way home,” said Partsafas, 32, who works in the sporting goods industry. .
“I am not very concerned about safety, but I am concerned that this could mean that more people will reject the option to get vaccinated in Hong Kong, which would affect herd immunity and the lifting of social distancing measures,” he said.
Some residents who had appointments Wednesday morning lined up outside a community center that administered Pfizer vaccines in the city’s Sai Ying Pun neighborhood around 10:30 a.m. They eventually left the center when it became clear that vaccines would not be administered.
As of 8 p.m. Tuesday, 403,000 people had received vaccinations in the city, of which 150,200 had received the first dose of the Pfizer vaccine, compared with 252,800 who had received the Sinovac vaccine.
This history has been corrected to indicate that the defective lot number is 210102.