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19 Feb, 2021 13:09

Hong Kong to let citizens choose which Covid-19 jab they receive, amid safety concerns and low vaccine confidence

Hong Kong to let citizens choose which Covid-19 jab they receive, amid safety concerns and low vaccine confidence

Hong Kong’s health secretary has sought to allay fears about China’s Sinovac jab, which will become available in the former British colony later this month, but says citizens may choose between the US and Chinese vaccine.

Speaking with Reuters on Friday, Hong Kong Secretary for Food and Health Sophia Chan said that the government’s decision to formally approve Sinovac’s Covid-19 vaccine on Thursday did not mean the island had lowered its standards or had been put under pressure by Beijing.

“The government has not politicized any vaccine. In fact, we really think that one should not politicize any of the vaccination process, because, really, the Covid-19 vaccine is our hope,” Chan told Reuters.

The health secretary said that there will be 29 inoculation centers across the special administrative region, five of which will offer the Sinovac jab and 24 will offer the vaccine developed by US pharmaceutical giant Pfizer and Germany’s BioNTech.

“If people have worries, then they can choose the vaccine of their choice,” she said.

Hong Kong’s 7.5 million residents will be able to get a jab from next Friday with priority in the queue given to 2.4 million essential frontline workers and those in vulnerable groups. 

However, the former British colony may struggle to obtain herd immunity through vaccinations, with the latest figures suggesting that only four in ten Hongkongers are willing to be inoculated.  

Also on rt.com Sinovac says its Covid-19 vaccine has ‘good’ efficacy after Brazilian partner claimed it was only 50% effective

After Sinovac’s CoronaVac jab was approved on Thurday, Chan, said that the benefits outweighed the risks and that the vaccine had met the “safety, efficacy and quality requirements specified in Hong Kong emergency situations.” 

A Hong Kong government advisory panel on Covid-19 vaccines said the Chinese jab was 62.3 percent effective when two doses were administered 28 days apart, substantially less than Pfizer-BioNTech’s 95-percent protection rate.

In January, Sinovac chairman Yin Weidong had to defend his company’s jab after the company’s Brazilian partner, the Butantan Institute, said that the vaccine had only shown 50-percent efficacy in stage-three trials. 

Yin sought to clarify the announcement by the Butantan Institute, insisting that CoronaVac was 50-percent effective in “protecting medical workers” but 100-percent effective in preventing severe cases.

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