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Vaccine reluctance in Hong Kong may see unused doses being discarded

Maya Taylor

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PHOTO: Flickr

The take-up of Covid-19 vaccines has been so low in Hong Kong that, according to a BBC report, the territory may end up throwing away 2 million Pfizer doses. Fewer than 20% of the population has been vaccinated and the 2 million doses will expire in 3 months’ time. Hong Kong has procured sufficient doses to inoculate its entire population, but distrust of the government, coupled with low infection numbers, has led to a low take-up rate.

The BBC reports that Thomas Tsang from the government’s vaccine task force has warned that doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine cannot be used after their expiry date and that residents only have 3 months left in which to get vaccinated.

“They cannot be used after the expiry date and the community vaccination centres for BioNTech will, according to present plans, cease operating after September.”

Tsang points out the inequity of Hong Kong having such a huge surplus of vaccines, while other countries struggle to obtain enough. He adds that it is unlikely Hong Kong will receive any additional supplies before year-end. Meanwhile, Thailand faces potential supply challenges that could threaten its vaccine rollout.

According to the BBC report, Hong Kong has purchased 7.5 million doses of the Pfizer and Sinovac vaccines. The territory’s population is around 7.5 million, but to date, only 14% have received 2 doses of a vaccine. The report states that even medical workers have been slow to get vaccinated, with only a third of hospital workers having done so.

The low take-up is being blamed primarily on how Hong Kong residents feel about their Beijing-sanctioned government. Pro-democracy protests in 2019 were met with fierce opposition, culminating in China introducing a contentious national security law last year. The law makes subversion, secession, and collusion with foreign forces a crime, which carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.

SOURCE: BBC

 

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