In a move that triggered scenes of confusion in Hong Kong’s vaccination centers, authorities in Hong Kong suddenly halted COVID-19 vaccinations from a single batch of Germany’s Pfizer-BioNTech doses due to packaging defects.
The German vaccine manufacturer on Wednesday notified Hong Kong and Macau of issues with packaging lids of ‘batch 210102’ of its doses and in the “interests of safety” decided to suspend the delivery of that set of jabs to the people.
Although a notice from the Macau government said that the specific vaccine doses do not pose any risks, BioNTech and Fosun Pharma, which is delivering the vaccine jabs, had requested the suspension until their investigations had been completed.
University of Hong Kong microbiologist Ho Pak-leung said the city would take the same precautionary measures as Macau, but also noted that there was no evidence of any security risks from packaging issues.
Inoculation center staff turned away people booked to take the vaccine, with many Hong Kong-ers unsure as to the reason. Adding to the confusion, local media reports said one doctor was reprimanded for promoting the BioNTech vaccine over China’s Sinovac.
The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and the Chinese version Sinovac are the only two vaccines available in Hong Kong. The city started vaccinating residents with doses from Sinovac in February and began offering the one developed by BioNTech, in March.
A total of 403,000 people, or about 5.3 per cent of the city’s population, have been vaccinated as of Tuesday, according to government statistics.