Hong Kong lawmaker Regina Ip has received a dose of the German-developed BioNTech vaccine after finding that no Covid antibodies were detected from her two jabs with the Chinese-made Sinovac some six months ago.
Ip, a member of both the Legislative and Executive Councils, tested negative for coronavirus antibodies earlier this week. She said on Thursday she acted as a “guinea pig” by receiving the extra shot of BioNTech after she was fully vaccinated in March with two doses of Sinovac.
Ip took her latest jab at the Hong Kong Sanatorium & Hospital Eastern Medical Centre, which reached out to a handful of executive councillors to take part in a clinical test on the effect of getting three doses.
The lawmaker described herself as having been among “the first batch” to be inoculated in Hong Kong. A blood test on Monday showed no Covid-19 antibodies could be detected in her, close to seven months since the first dose.
“It means after a period of time, there were no more antibodies in my body. Even though I was vaccinated earlier, I may still get infected with Covid-19, or even spread it to others,” Ip wrote on Facebook, adding she was slightly exhausted after the shot, but her condition was “still good.”
At least six other executive council members have received or will receive a booster shot through the hospital, sources told HK01. HKFP has reached out to the hospital for confirmation and comment.
The Hong Kong government’s free vaccination programme offered a choice between BioNTech and Sinovac. Numerous international tests have found the Chinese-made vaccines to be less effective than many of those developed in other countries.
On June 5, Ip tweeted: I had an antibody test last week, 2 months after I was fully vaccinated. I am delighted the result shows I am well protected against Covid. Sinovac’s vaccine works!”
Last month, local respiratory disease expert Dr Leung Chi-chiu said there was no rush for people to get a third Covid-19 shot and they should wait for an official recommendation from the authorities. The doctor also advised against combining different brands of vaccines, saying there had been no published data on the efficacy of the approach.
An expert panel advising the government said on Wednesday that there was “no urgent need” to arrange booster shots. But it said the government may consider to begin vaccinating people with a third dose two or three months before a date is set for the city to reopen its borders.
As of Thursday, 3,902,300 people in Hong Kong had received two doses of Covid-19 vaccine. Among them, 1,429,200 took the Sinovac ones, while 2,473,100 were inoculated with the BioNTech shot.
Single BioNTech jab for teens
On Wednesday, the government recommended that Hongkongers aged 12 to 17 receive one dose of the BioNTech vaccine rather than the normal two, after medical experts “balanced the risk and benefits in the local setting.”
Teenagers who have signed up for their second jab may cancel the booking online, while medical personnel will explain the recommendation and relevant risks to those who wish to be inoculated with a second dose of BioNTech.