Hong Kong vaccine rollout hampered by dependence on Chinese vaccines – tech2.org

Hong Kong vaccine rollout hampered by dependence on Chinese vaccines

When Hong Kong CEO Carrie Lam rolled up her sleeves for the Asian financial center’s first Covid-19 vaccine last month, she gave strong backing to the injections produced by the mainland Chinese firm. Sinovac Biotech Ltd.

“Today we are taking the Sinovac vaccine, which was developed and manufactured on the mainland, because it is the first vaccine to arrive in Hong Kong,” Lam. she said on February 22 when she was vaccinated in a public ceremony with her top aides.

Since then, trust in both Sinovac and his government’s vaccine campaign has plummeted. Seven deaths and dozens of adverse reactions were reported after the first 160,000 doses of the injection, and residents began to enroll in heaps of the vaccine made by BioNTech SE and Pfizer Inc. – the only other available.

Hong Kong Leader Carrie Lam and Top Officials Receive Covid Vaccine

Carrie Lam receives a dose of the Covid-19 vaccine from Sinovac Biotech Ltd. on February 22.

Photographer: Lam Yik / Bloomberg

While official investigations revealed no connection between the deaths and Sinovac, and one death was also reported after a resident took the BioNTech vaccine, hysteria added to growing public distrust of Hong Kong authorities in the past two. years like Beijing he moved to restrict freedom of expression and lock up defenders of democracy. Even before the latest crisis, only 37% of adults in the city said they would take a Covid-19 vaccine, according to a survey by the Chinese University of Hong Kong.

Now Lam and other officials are pleading with the public to get the vaccines before they expire, while also expanding eligibility for healthy adults. Aged 30 to 59. The low vaccination rate, following that of Singapore, threatens to delay Hong Kong’s reopening compared to other major cities, hurting an economy already hit by the double blow of the pandemic and protests in favor of democracy in 2019.

‘Negative impression’

“The recent death cases related to Sinovac have created a negative impression of the vaccines, even if the government says they are not related,” said Kenneth Ip, a 43-year-old property manager in Hong Kong who said he does not want to be vaccinated. “If they made it mandatory, I will choose BioNTech, not Sinovac.”

Skepticism in Hong Kong underscores public doubt about vaccines facing governments around the world, including the future of the shot made by AstraZeneca Plc following reports of severe blood clotting in a small number of people in Europe.

The Asian financial center has so far administered equivalent doses to cover 2% of its population, compared to 6.9% in Singapore and 54% in Israel, which leads the world in vaccines, according to Bloomberg’s. Vaccine tracker. Authorities have moved twice to expand the pool eligible for vaccines after only a small percentage of people in priority groups chose to receive injections.

In a weekly briefing on Tuesday, Lam said the city would consider expanding the vaccine’s eligibility to anyone over the age of 16 once more doses arrive. He also said he would examine more incentives to push vaccination, even if it would be possible to reduce the mandatory 21-day quarantine for residents returning to the territory.

“I will personally investigate this matter,” he told reporters.

Hong Kong Vaccine Absence Rate Rises After Side Effects Reports

Liu Peicheng, a spokesman for Sinovac, said the number of deaths initially reported in Hong Kong after the first round of vaccinations was “unexpectedly high.” While understanding the concerns among residents, Liu stressed that the deaths were not related to the vaccine, adding that a media frenzy exacerbated the situation.

“Once confidence is damaged, it is really difficult to reverse,” Liu said, adding that Sinovac has had more setbacks in Hong Kong than anywhere else in the world. He said 70 million doses of Sinovac have been given worldwide, and nearly a third of them go to people 60 and older, and the rate of adverse events is equally low in all age groups.

Sinovac said Monday night that it could produce 2 billion doses of the Covid-19 vaccine this year.

Hong Kong proper Analysis shows the effectiveness of Sinovac to be approximately 62% after a second dose, compared to 97% for BioNTech. And although BioNTech became available in Hong Kong later than Sinovac, it is now being used at a faster rate.

Widening gap

Despite delayed start, BioNTech vaccines outperform Sinovac’s

The percentage of people who don’t show up for Sinovac appointments has hovered around 20% in the past seven days, according to government data, compared to an average of less than 7% for BioNTech. Since Friday, an average of 15,000 people a day have received a dose of BioNTech, the data shows, while the number of residents who received Sinovac during that time averaged about 10,700.

Lam Ching-choi, a physician and advisor to Carrie Lam, said “in hindsight” it was possible that the early deployment of Sinovac by the government and the highly publicized but unrelated deaths deterred people from getting vaccinated. However, he added, administration experts said Sinovac was safe and could be used in older people.

Hong Kong CEO Carrie Lam receives second dose of Sinovac vaccine

Hong Kong Food and Health Secretary Sophia Chan and Civil Service Secretary Patrick Nip receive their second dose of the Covid-19 vaccine from Sinovac Biotech Ltd. on March 22.

Photographer: Ivan Abreu / Bloomberg

“Every measure, whether it be the control of the epidemic or the implementation of the vaccination program, all are calibrated and guided by science and experts,” he said. “But sadly, sometimes the general public doesn’t perceive them as positive.”

Hong Kong’s Vaccine Stocks Increase on First Day of Expanded Access

In addition to the deaths early in the launch, the lack of data from Sinovac on how vaccines affect the elderly has fueled the public’s reluctance to get vaccinated. In its emergency approval for Sinovac, the Hong Kong expert committee indicated there was “insufficient efficacy data in people Aged 60 and more “.

in a Last week’s statement, the government said the expert committee recommended Sinovac because the benefit “generally exceeds the risk of not using any vaccine” in people 60 years of age and older. He accused critics of trying to “taint” the Sinovac vaccine.

“I’m not sure why there is so much enthusiasm for Sinovac” in the Hong Kong government, said Benjamin Cowling, professor and director of epidemiology and biostatistics at the University of Hong Kong. “It is not as effective a vaccine and there is not much evidence of its efficacy in adults over 60 years old.

Vaccination vaccination

Participation rate for those who booked Sinovac behind BioNTech

Source: Hong Kong government statements


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