HONG KONG (Reuters) -Hong Kong authorities said on Thursday they would resume the use of BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine next Monday after abruptly halting inoculations nine days ago due to defective packaging.
A 300,000 dose batch is due to arrive in Hong Kong on Friday that was produced and packaged at a different plant to the two batches whose use was halted by authorities.
The announcement comes as the city’s government seeks to convince residents to get vaccinated after a sluggish take-up due to dwindling confidence in a rival vaccine from China’s Sinovac and fears of adverse reactions.
“We want to enhance public confidence in the vaccine program,” Patrick Nip, secretary for the Civil Service, told a briefing on Thursday.
With low levels of infection in the city, many people feel less urgency to get a vaccination quickly and some residents have criticised the lack of data available for the Sinovac vaccine compared to the BioNTech offering.
Prior to its suspension, the number of Hong Kong residents booking the BioNTech shot was more than double the number for the Sinovac shot, according to government figures.
The Hong Kong government said BioNTech was still conducting investigations into the previous two batches and it would wait for a final conclusion before using them. It added that the safety and efficacy of the vaccine has not been affected.
Around 7% of Hong Kong’s 7.5 million population has been vaccinated, one third of which have taken the BioNTech vaccine.
The BioNTech vaccine is distributed in Hong Kong and Macau via a partnership with China’s Fosun Pharma, while BioNTech partners with Pfizer in markets outside greater China.
The former British colony has recorded around 11,400 coronavirus infections and 205 deaths.
(Reporting by Farah Master; Editing by Edwina Gibbs)