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COVID-19: Macao And Hong Kong Suspend Pfizer / Biontech Vaccine

Macao and Hong Kong announced on Wednesday the suspension of their vaccination campaign with the Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine after being informed by the laboratory of a problem with the packaging of a batch of vials. The two territories said they made the decision after being contacted by Fosun, the Chinese pharmaceutical company that distributes the Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine in China.

According to the authorities, the vials bearing the lot number 210102 showed a defective type of packaging. The press releases from the authorities in Hong Kong and Macao did not specify the nature of these defects, but the two territories stress that this does not present any risk in terms of health security. The authorities explained that they had acted as a precaution, pending the conclusions of the investigation.

Vaccines bearing lot number 210102 have been administered to residents of Hong Kong. Authorities have indicated that lot 210104 will be set aside until the investigation is concluded. On social networks, Hong Kong people announced that their appointment on Wednesday was canceled and that some vaccination centers were closed. Very densely populated, Hong Kong, which has nearly 7.5 million inhabitants, shows very little contamination thanks to severe restrictions and a three-week quarantine imposed on people arriving from abroad.

200 deaths since the start of the pandemic

Since the start of the pandemic, the city has recorded some 11,000 cases and 200 deaths have been attributed to Covid-19. Hong Kong launched its vaccination campaign at the end of February but the population is not rushing to the vaccination centers, which seems to testify to the population’s mistrust of the pro-Beijing executive. In 2019, the city was rocked by massive pro-democracy protests to which Beijing responded last year with a harsh crackdown on dissent. According to a recent survey, only 37% of Hong Kong adults intended to be vaccinated. As of Tuesday, 403,000 people, or about 5% of the population, had received their first dose of the vaccine. Two vaccines are currently available to residents, the Chinese Sinovac vaccine called CoronaVac and the Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine.

The vaccination program was opened last week to anyone over the age of 30, with authorities struggling to convince older and high-priority people to get vaccinated. Chief executive Carrie Lam lamented the lack of enthusiasm for the vaccination and accused opponents of “denigrating” the Chinese vaccine. Health officials on Tuesday banned a clinic from administering vaccines after one of its doctors publicly said they preferred Pfizer’s vaccine over Sinovac’s.

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