Addressing Monday’s press conference about Macao’s novel coronavirus situation, Alvis Lo Iek Long, a clinical director of the public Conde de São Januário Hospital Centre, said that in addition to local residents, non-resident workers and non-local students will be covered by the government’s free-of-charge Covid-19 vaccination drive, which will happen later this year.
“After assessing the situation, the Macao government has preliminarily decided that the [Covid-19] injections will be free of charge for [local] residents, non-resident workers, and non-local students enrolled in Macao, covering all residents and all those who work or study in Macao,” Lo said.
Lo also said that the government has decided that its free-of-charge Covid-19 vaccination drive would be beneficial to Macao’s Covid-19 prevention and control work. Lo said that Covid-19 vaccines will not only protect those who have got injections but also create Covid-19 herd immunity.
Lo also reaffirmed that the government’s Covid-19 vaccination programme will start in the current quarter.
“The government has been carrying out a lot of preparatory tasks for its administration of [Covid-19] vaccines, such as purchasing, delivery, insurance and administration procedures, which are going on smoothly,” Lo said, adding that the government “will roll out the administration of [Covid-19] vaccines in the first quarter of this year, don’t worry about this [the possible postponement of the timetable]”.
Lo admitted that the government does not have an exact timetable as to when Macao’s first Covid-19 vaccines will be available. But he underlined that despite “the possible delay of the shipments” of the vaccines, the government was “confident” that its Covid-19 vaccination drive can be rolled out in the current quarter, thanks to a series of preparatory measures and its constant communication with the respective vaccine suppliers.
Lo pledged that the government will be “fully transparent” in announcing its latest information about the upcoming Covid-19 vaccination programme.
Secretary for Social Affairs and Culture Elsie Ao Ieong U said last week that the Macao government was studying the possibility of buying insurance for all those who get Covid-19 injections in its novel coronavirus vaccination programme.
When asked by the media why the government plans to set up an insurance scheme for its Covid-19 vaccination programme while underlining that the Covid-19 vaccines to be delivered to Macao would be safe, Lo said that the planned insurance scheme aimed to provide better protection for those who might suffer an adverse event after getting vaccinated against Covid-19.
Lo underlined that Covid-19 vaccines can reduce the risk of infection with the novel coronavirus, and the risk of developing Covid-19 symptoms if they have already been infected. Lo said that if people who have had Covid-19 injections have already been infected and come down with symptoms, the vaccines can still reduce the probability of suffering a serious condition or dying from the disease.
Lo underlined that “there is nothing that involves no risk at all”, adding that the government cannot rule out the possibility of the occurrence of rare adverse events in its Covid-19 vaccination drive.
‘No huge & shocking conspiracy behind it’
“We cannot say that the government wants to achieve something by buying insurance for all those who get the Covid-19 injections. Residents have their own right to choose [whether to be vaccinated or not]. The insurance scheme will not necessarily increase residents’ incentives to get inoculated,” Lo said.
Lo underlined that the benefits of people being inoculated against Covid-19 are larger than the possible side effects. “If one new thing does not create benefits – or its benefits are smaller than the possible side effects, the situation would be quickly discovered and this new thing should no longer exist in the world,” Lo said, adding that the government’s planned insurance scheme for its Covid-19 vaccination programme does not “as someone might think have a huge and shocking conspiracy behind it”. Lo said that the government does not claim that Macao’s Covid-19 prevention and control work will only be successful after all the people in the city are inoculated against the novel coronavirus.
(The Macau Post Daily/Macao News)
Photo by Markus Spiske