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Govt explains vaccine surplus plan

The Government said it will discuss with the drug manufacturers on how to handle the expected surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses concerning this year's COVID-19 Vaccination Programme.   It made the statement in response to a media report which claimed that Hong Kong will throw away millions of COVID-19 vaccine doses due to low vaccination rate.   The Government noted that as at May 24, out of the two million odd doses each of the Sinovac and BioNTech vaccine which have arrived in Hong Kong, there are 1.05 million and 840,000 unused doses.   It pointed out that the BioNTech vaccine needs to be stored in an ultra-low temperature setting and the vaccines have a relatively short expiry date from the date of manufacture which is around three to four months after arrival in Hong Kong. The vaccines now in storage will expire in mid-August.   The Government observed that the public's demand for the BioNTech vaccine has gradually become sluggish recently.   Compared with the daily capacity of over 40,000 doses in community vaccination centres (CVCs), there are only on average around 10,000 people per day making online bookings to receive their first and second doses of the BioNTech vaccine.   To avoid wastage amid tight global supply, the Government explained that it will, based on the vaccination and appointment trends, estimate the quantity of vaccines that may become excessive.   It added that it will discuss with the drug manufacturers on how to handle the expected surplus doses, which will be unused in this year’s COVID-19 Vaccination Programme, before the expiry date of the vaccines.   Such actions include postponing or cancelling delivery of certain batches or donating them to places which are more in need of the vaccines through channels such as the World Health Organization COVAX Facility.   The Government also pointed out that as it takes time for the production of vaccines, quality control and transport and logistics, etc, even if the public’s demand for vaccines suddenly surges later on, it would not be possible for the relevant vaccines to be replenished within this year.   It called on the public not to delay and get vaccinated as soon as possible while the current stock lasts and the service capacity is still sufficient at the CVCs.
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