Hong Kong’s first shipment of the German-US developed Pfizer BioNtech vaccine has been delayed. A million doses of the “Comirnaty” vaccine expected to land on Thursday are now expected to arrive “as soon as possible.”
The holdup was due to incomplete export procedures – not production issues or quality and safety testing requirements – the government said on Wednesday. It added that the shipment from Germany had not been affected by any EU export restrictions.
The spokesperson said it had been “maintaining close liaison” with Fosun Pharma, the Shanghai-based company distributing the vaccine to Hong Kong “with a view to striving for an early supply.”
“We will continue to actively follow up with the vaccine supplier, with a view to commencing the administration of the Comirnaty vaccine as soon as possible,” the spokesperson added.
A city-wide voluntary vaccination programme is set to begin on Friday. All 29 community vaccination centres, save five are expected to administer the Pfizer-BioNtech-developed vaccine.
People who fall into five priority groups will receive China’s Sinovac vaccines at five community centres and 18 Hospital Authority out-patient clinics across the city from Friday onwards. Over 15,000 private clinics are also expected to administer the Chinese jab in mid-March.
The first two weeks of the vaccination programme were fully booked within the first day of online registrations.
13 new cases
Hong Kong reported 13 new infections, one of which was imported whilst three were from untraceable sources on Thursday.
In a press release, the Centre for Health Protection reiterated its calls for the public to avoid all social gatherings and dining out despite social gathering restrictions being eased earlier this week.
It also called on the public to avoid non-essential travel even as local numbers remain low: “Given that… there is a continuous increase in the number of cases reported around the world, members of the public are strongly urged to avoid all non-essential travel outside Hong Kong,” a spokesperson said on Thursday.
The city has seen a total of 10,926 confirmed cases and 198 deaths.