Local experts will study Sinovac trial data before approval but Sinovac vows to ship vaccines to HK on time

Local | 13 Jan 2021 7:35 pm

Medical experts will decide whether to approve the registration for emergency use of Beijing-made Sinovac's Covid-19 vaccine, Secretary for the Civil Service Patrick Nip Tak-kuen said after clinical trial results in Brazil showed a low 50 percent efficacy.

However, Sinovac's executive director Yin Weidong yesterday insisted its vaccines provide good protection and vowed to supply Hong Kong the first batch of 1 million shots among 7.5 million the SAR government agreed to procure by end of this month on schedule.

This came as the general efficacy of the vaccine was 50.38 percent in a late-stage trial in Brazil, the company’s local partners Butantan Institute announced on Tuesday (Brazil time) – lower than the clinical efficacy of 78 percent announced last Thursday.

Nip in charge of the city's vaccination program said the government's panel of experts overseeing vaccination will be meeting this week to review the vaccines' clinical data.

Asked whether it is too late to reject Sinovac jabs if its efficacy is eventually deemed undesirable, Nip said the government signed advance purchase agreements with pharmaceutical firms to ensure stocks for Hong Kong amid a tight global supply, but added inoculation will only be carried out when the experts consider the jabs effective and safe.

However, government advisor David Hui Shu-cheong from the Chinese University of Hong Kong told Bloomberg Sinovac had pushed behind announcement of phase III clinical trial data on three occasions and “that would delay the assessment of their application.”

But in a Beijing press briefing yesterday, Yin said Sinovac has submitted documents and information required for registration to the SAR government.

“We've signed an agreement to provide 1 million jabs (in the first batch) to Hong Kong government. We will stick to the contract and ship them on time,” he said.

Local doctors said it is too early to judge given the incomplete statistics, and more information such as age distribution of volunteers have to be viewed to determine the effectiveness.

However, the Society of Hospital Pharmacists of Hong Kong asked the government to think twice when administering the jabs on high risk elderly people, who have poorer immunity and may only general limited protection after receiving the Sinovac shots.

Its president William Chui Chun-ming called for the government to consider inoculating care home residents and senior citizens with the Europe-made BioNTech vaccine.

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