The government has sought HK$1 billion from the Legislative Council (LegCo) for an indemnity fund as it gears up to roll out a city-wide vaccination programme in early March. Secretary for Food and Health Sophia Chan submitted the proposal to the Legislative Council on Wednesday.

The proposed fund seeks to provide payments of up to HK$3 million to people who experience serious health complications or pass away from coronavirus vaccinations.

A coronavirus vaccine. File photo: Office of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff for Public Affairs, via Flickr.

The government looks to grant the highest payout to individuals under the age of 40 who suffer serious side effects while those over the age of 40 will receive $2.5 million.

Family members of fatal cases will be granted HK$2.5 million if a patient is under the age of 40 and HK$2 million for those over 40 under the proposal.

The indemnity fund, announced by Chief Executive Carrie Lam in December, seeks to provide financial support to people affected by the vaccinations, as pharmaceutical companies are exempted from liability under the government’s procurement agreement.

The setting up of an indemnity fund was endorsed by the Executive Council last December to cover “rare cases” of serious complications arising from the vaccination programme. The government’s proposal is set to be heard by LegCo next Friday.

Sinovac

One million doses of Chinese-manufactured Sinovac vaccines may arrive in Hong Kong as early as Friday as social distancing measures were partially relaxed on Thursday.

The vaccine was unanimously endorsed for emergency-use in Hong Kong by an advisory panel on Wednesday after waiving a requirement for the developer to publish final phase clinical trials results in medical journals. Instead, the government asked for reports to be directly submitted to the panel.

Wallace Lau and David Hui meeting the press on Tuesday about the recommendation of Sinovac. Photo: RTHK, via video screenshot.

“The data that we have looked at appeared to show that this vaccine is efficacious,” the advisory panel convener Wallace Lau said on Wednesday.

Vaccine developer Chinese pharmaceutical company Sinovac Biotech says its jab has an overall efficacy rate of 50.66 per cent, and if the second dose of vaccine is taken after a 28-day break, the efficacy rate increases to 62.3 per cent.

In comparison, BioNTech’s coronavirus vaccine, which was approved for emergency use by the department last month, has an efficacy rate of 95 per cent. They are expected to arrive in Hong Kong by next week before the vaccination scheme is set to begin.

The government is expected to release further details of the vaccination scheme later on Thursday.

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