Hong Kong delays imports of AstraZeneca vaccine

By Riyaz ul Khaliq

ANKARA (AA) – After halting the use of the BioNTech vaccine, the Hong Kong government on Friday revealed that it had asked the AstraZeneca vaccine manufacturer to delay its vaccine shipment.

Sophia Chan Siu-chee, Hong Kong's secretary for food and health, told the Legislative Council's health panel that the said vaccine imports have been delayed, which were planned to come this year, the daily South China Morning Post reported.

"The main reason is because we already have enough supplies," said Chan. Hong Kong authorities had ordered at least 7.5 million doses from AstraZeneca, which were expected to come in the second half of this year.

The move came after the European Medicines Agency said there could be a "possible link" between the vaccine and "very rare cases of unusual blood clots."

The World Health Organization also said a "causal relationship between the vaccine and the occurrence of blood clots with low platelets is considered plausible but is not confirmed."

Chan said the government was concerned about the safety reports about the AstraZeneca vaccine.

"It is not necessary to deliver it to the city this year to avoid any waste," she said. "We have also begun looking at next-generation vaccines that can offer better protection against new virus variants."

The semi-autonomous region has 7.5 million shots, each already ordered from China's Sinovac and the German firm's BioNTech.

Last month, Hong Kong suspended the use of the BioNTech vaccine.
The decision came after "deviations in the vial seal were found in one batch of the vaccine," the health department had said.

However, the health secretary did not reveal whether the Hong Kong government had paid the drugmaker for the vaccine.

Hong Kong has reported 11,550 cases of the COVID-19, including 205 deaths since the outbreak. The regional government has administered 700,000 jabs, so far, in a population of 7.5 million.