Hong Kong temporarily halts Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccinations
Hong Kong has temporarily suspended COVID-19 vaccinations from a single batch of 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, while the matter was being investigated, South China Morning Post (SCMP) reported citing sources.
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.
Pictures posted on social media showed signs outside a Hong Kong vaccination center, saying the government was expected to make a special announcement later on Wednesday relating to its operation, reported SCMP.
The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and the Chinese version Sinovac are the only two vaccines available in Hong Kong.
A total of 403,000 people, or about 5.3% of the city's population, have been vaccinated as of Tuesday, according to government statistics.
First COVID Pill
Meanwhile, Pfizer has reportedly started the stage one clinical trial of an oral pill that patients could take when they experience symptoms.
The pill, if ever it proceeds to market, may be the first oral antiviral treatment for the coronavirus which is hope to help speed up the COVID-19 vaccination.