Govt to delay AstraZeneca vaccine delivery amid safety concerns, says Sophia Chan

Friday, April 09, 2021

Hong Kong said on Friday it will delay shipments of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine this year amid mounting concerns over possible links between the shot and very rare cases of blood clots.

Hong Kong had ordered 7.5 million doses from the British-Swedish company, which were scheduled to arrive in the second half of 2021.

Health Secretary Sophia Chan said the city had a sufficient supply of vaccines, with a total of 15 million doses of Germany’s BioNTech and China’s Sinovac - the only two vaccines available in the city.

“Even if we have signed a pre-purchase agreement with AstraZeneca, we believe that AstraZeneca vaccines will not need to be supplied to Hong Kong this year, so as not to cause a waste when the vaccine is still in short supply globally,” Chan said.

The government was considering buying a new type of vaccine that may offer better protection, she added.

More than 700,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered to the city’s 7.5 million population so far, a figure Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam said was unsatisfactory.

The sluggish take-up comes amid dwindling confidence in the Sinovac vaccine and fears of adverse reactions, while BioNTech vaccines were temporarily halted due to packaging defects.

Hong Kong has so far registered more than 11,500 coronavirus cases, with 205 deaths.- Reuters