Hong Kong ‘pretty confident’ vaccination will be available for all residents by year-end, health secretary says

Health, Fitness & Food

Hong Kong’s health secretary says she is confident that all its residents will be offered Covid vaccines by the end of 2021.

The city has signed agreements to obtain more than enough doses for its population, Hong Kong’s Secretary for Food and Health, Sophia Chan, told CNBC’s “Capital Connection” on Tuesday.

In response to a question on when Hong Kong could reach herd immunity, Chan said authorities are still gauging the response to vaccinations as well as watching the delivery procurement schedule. She did not provide a timeline for when the city could hit herd immunity, a situation where enough people in the population have become immune to a disease, so that it effectively stops spreading rampantly.

“We are pretty confident that by the end of the year … everybody in Hong Kong will be provided an opportunity to get (their) vaccination,” she said.

Chan added that more than 22 million doses of Covid vaccines have already been ordered.

Hong Kong has a population of around 7.5 million, and began rolling out its vaccination drive in late February. It has signed deals to buy vaccines from China’s Sinovac Biotech, Europe’s Oxford-AstraZeneca, as well as one supplied by Shanghai-based Fosun Pharma and its partner, German drugmaker BioNTech.

Customers buy fresh vegetables from a street market shop in Hong Kong on March 8, 2021.

Anthony Wallace | AFP | Getty Images

Chan said people seem “quite enthusiastic” about being vaccinated so far, but acknowledged that they are still rolling it out in phases and it’s not yet available to the whole population.

She also said experts are reviewing the reasons behind adverse events including at least two deaths following vaccination.

“Our scientific committee has initially provided the information that it has nothing to do with the vaccination. That is, they do not find any direct causality with the vaccination,” she said.

Separately, Chan weighed in on when Hong Kong would loosen its coronavirus restrictions, saying the city’s authorities will be “very careful” about doing so.

She said the situation remains “a little bit unstable” because unlinked cases are still being reported despite new cases being low.

“We want to really contain … and cut the transmission chains in a community because we do not want any clusters to come out,” she said.

On Tuesday, Hong Kong reported 21 new cases, bringing the total number of infections to at least 11,121, according to the health authority there.

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