Hong Kong kicks off COVID-19 vaccinations with Sinovac jab

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HONG KONG (AP) — Hong Kong began administering its first COVID-19 vaccines to the public Friday, kicking off its program offering free vaccinations to all 7.5 million residents.

People age 60 and older and health care workers are among the some 2.4 million people currently prioritized to receive vaccines at community centers and outpatient clinics across Hong Kong. The government said registrations for the first two weeks of the program are full.

Participants so far will be receiving the vaccine by Chinese biopharmaceutical firm Sinovac. A million doses arrived in the city last week, and Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam and other top government officials were vaccinated first in a bid to bolster confidence in the program.

A poll published in January by the University of Hong Kong found respondents concerned about the Chinese vaccine’s efficacy.

A panel of Hong Kong experts said the efficacy of the Sinovac vaccine after two doses, 21 days apart, was 62.3%. In contrast, a study in Israel found that the two-dose Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine has 92% effectiveness.

Hong Kong has since struck deals to buy a total of 22.5 million doses of vaccines, with 7.5 million shots each from Sinovac, AstraZeneca and Fosun Pharma, which will deliver the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines to the city.

The government has so far approved the Sinovac and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines. The first million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was slated to arrive Thursday but has been delayed by export procedures, the government said in a statement.

Local newspaper South China Morning Post reported they were now due to arrive Saturday at the earliest.

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