“All vaccines have an expiration date,” Thomas Tsang, the former head of the Center for Health Protection, told state broadcaster RTHK today.
“They cannot be used after the expiration date and the vaccination centers they administer [vacina] He added that BioNTech will stop operating after September according to the current schedule.
He stressed that “the whole world is struggling to obtain vaccines,” considering that “it is unfair” that Hong Kong does not use the available doses.
The former British colony is one of the few areas in the world that achieved sufficient doses to vaccinate the entire population of 7.5 million, but the vaccination campaign is far from the expected success, largely due to mistrust towards the government’s position, considered by many to be an arm Chinese crackdown after the 2019 demonstrations.
The reason for the weak demand for vaccines could also be a lack of information and the low spread of the virus in Hong Kong, which has led many people to consider that there is no urgency for vaccination.
Reluctance to vaccinate is common, even among health workers. A few weeks ago, hospital officials revealed that only a third of the staff, considered a priority, had been vaccinated, according to Agence France-Presse (AFP).
Hong Kong has purchased 7.5 million doses of the vaccine developed by the American pharmaceutical company Pfizer and the German company BioNTech, and an equal number of doses of the vaccine from the Chinese pharmaceutical company Sinovac, which has not yet been approved by the World Health Organization (WHO).
Hong Kong had previously ordered 7.5 million doses of AstraZeneca before backtracking, stating that it prefers to use the budget for second-generation vaccines.
To date, Hong Kong has received approximately 3.3 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, but only 1.2 million doses have been administered.
According to Agence France-Presse, 19% of the population received the first dose, while 14% completed the vaccination.
In recent weeks, Hong Kong politicians have suggested that the former British colony send the unused doses overseas if more residents do not demand the vaccine.
Earlier this year, the government announced the distribution of shopping vouchers worth 5,000 Hong Kong dollars (526 euros) to boost the economy, and there were proposals to make them conditional on vaccination.
But CEO Carrie Lam rejected the proposal today.
He said, “The provision of money or anything tangible to vaccinate people should not be by the government,” considering that “it could have an opposite effect than what is intended.”