Hong Kong may soon have to launch millions of doses of coronavirus vaccine because they are approaching the expiration date and not enough people have signed up for the coups, an official warned on Tuesday.
Hong Kong is one of the few places in the world with the luck of having achieved more than enough doses to inoculate its entire population of 7.5 million people.
But the swirling mistrust of the government as it eliminates dissent — combined with online misinformation and the lack of urgency in the comparatively virus-free city — has taken root hesitation and a painful inoculation unit.
Tuesday a member of the government vaccine the working group warned that Hong Kongers “only have a three-month window” before the city’s first batch of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines expire.
“All vaccines have expiration dates,” Thomas Tsang, a former controller of the Health Protection Center, told RTHK radio.
“They cannot be used after the expiration date and BioNTech’s community vaccination centers, according to current plans, will stop operating after September.”
Tsang said “it was not right” for Hong Kong to sit on a stack of unused doses, while the rest of the world “seeks vaccines.”
And he warned that new doses are unlikely to be delivered.
“What we have is probably all we have for the rest of the year,” he said.
Hong Kong bought 7.5 million doses each of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and China’s Sinovac.
The latter has not yet been approved by the World Health Organization, but was accelerated so that city health regulators could use it.
It also pre-ordered 7.5 million doses of AstraZeneca stings, but rejected that deal earlier this year, and authorities said they planned to use the money for second-generation vaccines next year.
Resistance of medical workers
So far only 19% of the population has received a dose of either vaccine, while 14% have received two doses.
Hesitation is common even among the city’s medical workers. Earlier this month, the city’s hospital authority revealed that only a third of its staff had taken the opportunity to get vaccinated.
There are currently millions of unused Pfizer-BioNTech shots, which must be stored at extremely low temperatures and have a shelf life of six months.
A total of 3,263,000 doses of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines have been shipped to Hong Kong so far, but only 1,231,600 have been administered.
The vaccination of the Hong Kong vaccine occurs as many nearby countries soar to achieve sufficient doses such as the coronavirus it wreaks havoc.
In recent weeks, some Hong Kong politicians have suggested that the city could try to send unused vaccines abroad if its uptake does not improve.
Public confidence in the Hong Kong government has been at historic lows since Beijing and local authorities cracked down on dissent to end the immense and often violent democratic protests that erupted in 2019.
Officials have also struggled to get incentives to encourage vaccination in a city where long quarantine measures and economically painful distancing rules have kept infections low.
Instead, officials have largely attributed to companies pushing employees to get vaccinated.
Earlier this year, the government announced spending vouchers of A $ 5,000 ($ 640) for all residents as a way to boost the economy.
Some critics suggested that the government should link these vouchers to vaccination certificates or provide more cash aid to inoculated people.
However, on Tuesday city leader Carrie Lam turned down that suggestion.
“Offering cash or something physical to encourage vaccination should not be done by the government and may even have the opposite effect,” he said.
© 2021 AFP
Citation: Hong Kong could soon collect millions of doses of unused vaccines (2021, May 25) recovered on May 25, 2021 at https://medicalxpress.com/news/2021-05-hong-kong-bin-millions- unused.html
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