Sinovac will start selling its CoronaVac Covid-19 vaccines on the Hong Kong market this month, the Chinese firm announced on Wednesday, according to local media.

Sinovac Covid-19 Coronavirus vaccine
Photo: Jernej Furman, via Flickr.

Sinovac said that there will be several thousand vaccines supplied to the market and, if sales are good, the supply will gradually increase.

Helen Yang, the company’s general manager, said that they will sell the jabs at “an affordable price,” but then the market will set a price for patients. The company added that people in need could make appointments at private healthcare institutions or private clinics for the vaccine.

Sinovac also said that they planned to cooperate with charities and donate thousands of free vaccines for children aged between three and 12.

The government updated its free vaccination programme on April 20. Members of the public wishing to receive boosters exceeding three doses will need to obtain the jab privately. However, those who belong to priority groups, like pregnant women and healthcare workers, can still access vaccine boosters at no cost.

Moderna jab approved

Another Covid vaccine manufacturer, Moderna, said on Tuesday that its bivalent vaccines targeting Omicron subvariants BA.4 and BA.5 had been approved by the Department of Health for use in Hong Kong.

US-based Moderna added that its jabs provide more choice, and supplies would arrive soon in the city: “I personally think that Moderna will not be included in the government subsidy program, so if citizens would like to use Modern vaccines, they will have to pay themselves,” said Chair of Scientific Committee on Vaccine Preventable Diseases Yu-lung Lau.

Lo Chung-mau vaccine covid-19 influenza
Secretary for Health Lo Chung-mau receiving a winter flu vaccine on September 22, 2022, after getting a Covid-19 jab on his other arm. File photo: Almond Li/HKFP.

Hong Kong launched its free mass vaccination programme on February 26, 2021 and the government has bought 7.5 million doses from each of three manufacturers: Sinovac Biotech, Pfizer-BioNTech and AstraZeneca.

The government approved the emergency use of Chinese-made Sinovac on February 18, 2021, with the first million doses of vaccines arriving in Hong Kong a day later. It became available to the public on February 26, 2021.

The US-German Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine Comirnaty was ordered through Fosun Pharma, a Shanghai-based pharmaceutical company. It was approved for emergency use in January 2021 and the first 580,000 doses arrived in Hong Kong at the end of February 2021.

Covid cases increase

Director of Cluster Services of the Hospital Authority Simon Tang said at a Wednesday press conference that the number of Covid-19 cases are expected to remain at a high level in the coming weeks, as will the number of influenza cases.

Queen Mary Hospital A&E
Queen Mary Hospital A&E. File photo: Tom Grundy/HKFP.

He added that hospitalised Covid cases were nearly 30 per cent higher than usual. They added that additional wards would be opened at the Hong Kong Infection Control Centre at North Lantau Hospital.

Last Friday, the World Health Organization (WHO) said that Covid-19 was no longer a global health emergency. However, WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said: “This virus is here to stay. It is still killing, and it’s still changing. The risk remains of new variants emerging that cause new surges in cases and deaths.”

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Mandy Cheng is a reporter at Hong Kong Free Press. Previously, she worked at Ming Pao, focusing on investigative and feature reporting. She also contributed to Cable TV and others.