A fresh batch of BioNTech vaccine could be delivered to Macao if necessary “before too long”, according to Secretary for Social Affairs and Culture Elsie Ao Ieong U.
Inoculations using the German-made vaccine were halted earlier this week after some doses were found to have faulty packaging.
Currently, the Health Bureau is considering whether to continue using doses which have not suffered packaging defects, although no health risks are thought to exist, or to order a completely new batch. Ao Ieong did not specify an exact timeframe for delivery.
Unlike in other parts of the world, US pharma company Pfizer is not distributing BioNTech vaccine in Hong Kong and Macao, as Shanghai-based Fosun Pharma is the distributor for the Chinese mainland and the Greater Bay Area.
Fosun informed the Hong Kong and Macao governments on Wednesday morning that “packaging defects” were detected in the vial caps of the BioNTech vaccines in Lot 210102.
Ao Ieong said that she “does not suggest” that those who have had their first BioNTech jab switch to another type of Covid-19 vaccine. She noted that normally those who have received their first Covid-19 jab will need to have the second jab 28 days afterwards, but it would still be all right if they receive the second jab “a certain period of time” after the 28-day interval, adding she believed that residents “will not need to wait for too long” before the resumption of BioNTech inoculations in Macao.
The Macao government’s Covid-19 vaccination drive started on 9 February with Sinopharm inactivated jabs covering those in priority groups. Inoculations for all local residents started on 22 February. The inoculations with BioNTech mRNA vaccines started on 3 March.