HONG KONG (Reuters) – Hong Kong people are less trusting of Chinese novel coronavirus vaccines than those made in Europe and the United States, with fewer than 30% of people questioned in a survey finding China’s Sinovac vaccine acceptable.
The survey by the University of Hong Kong, in which up to 1,000 people were polled this month, showed that general acceptance of vaccines in the Chinese special administrative region was low, with only 46% likely to take a COVID-19 vaccine.
Trust was significantly lower in the Sinovac vaccine, with 29.5% of respondents accepting it compared with 56% of people who would take one produced by Germany’s BioNTech and 35% who would take one produced by AstraZeneca Plc and Oxford University.
Hong Kong’s government has ordered 7.5 million doses of the Sinovac vaccine and said it would be the first to arrive in the Asian financial hub, in January.
But the arrival of the vaccine has since been delayed and the government said it is waiting for more clinical information.
Before the pandemic arrived in Hong Kong in January 2020, the former British colony was roiled by months of anti-government and anti-China protests driven by a perception that Beijing was pushing the semi-autonomous city onto a more authoritarian path.
“How do you repair a trust deficit? I think there’s no quick and easy way,” Professor Gabriel Leung, dean of the University of Hong Kong’s medical school, told a press briefing on the survey results, referring to the Sinovac vaccine.
“I think there is only one way, and that’s openness and really allowing science to lead.”
Hong Kong formally approved use of a Fosun Pharma-BioNTech vaccine on Monday, the first vaccine to be accepted in the city. The first batch of one million doses is expected to arrive in the second half of February.
Hong Kong has secured a total of 22.5 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine from Fosun Pharma-BioNTech, Sinovac and Oxford-AstraZeneca, the city government leader Carrie Lam said in December.
Fosun Pharma is German drug manufacturer BioNTech’s partner in Greater China and is responsible for the cold-chain management, storage and distribution. The vaccines are being manufactured in Germany.
Hong Kong has largely managed to keep the coronavirus under control. It has had 10,283 cases and 174 deaths over the past year.
(Reporting by Farah Master; Editing by Robert Birsel)