A nurse prepares a syringe of the Pfizer-BioNtech COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination center, in Garlan, western France, on May 31, 2021. (FRED TANNEAU / AFP)
HONG KONG – Hong Kong’s secretary for health has authorized the Comirnaty Original/Omicron BA.4-5 bivalent vaccine by Fosun Pharma/BioNTech for emergency use in the city, the special administrative region's government announced on Friday.
According to the information provided by the drug manufacturer, the first batch of the Comirnaty bivalent vaccine is expected to arrive in Hong Kong from Germany at the end of November.
“After receiving shipment of the relevant vaccine and completing the necessary quality assurance procedures, the government will provide the relevant vaccines to the public as soon as possible,” the government said in a statement, adding that details will be announced later.
In its recommendations submitted to the Secretary for Health on Nov 7, the Advisory Panel on COVID-19 Vaccines said under the current epidemic situation, the benefits of authorizing the use of the bivalent vaccine as a booster for protecting against COVID-19 outweigh the risks.
READ MORE: HK experts recommend use of Comirnaty bivalent jab
To ensure that the relevant vaccine continues to fulfil the requirements of safety, efficacy and quality, the health chief has attached conditions to the authorization.
The applicant is required to keep providing the latest clinical data on the vaccine, safety update reports, as well as quality certification documents by the drug manufacturer for each batch of vaccines.
Following the earlier advice of the two scientific committees under the Centre for Health Protection of the Department of Health and the chief executive’s expert advisory panel, the SAR government will arrange for the Comirnaty bivalent vaccine to be used as an alternative to the fourth dose in accordance with the current vaccination schedule.
Both the Sinovac and Comirnaty vaccines currently provided can continue to be used as the fourth dose, said the government.
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"In addition to people aged 50 or above who should receive the fourth dose, people aged 18 to 49 may also choose to receive the fourth dose after considering the individual risk and benefit,” said a government spokesman, urging the residents, especially senior citizens, chronic patients, and other immunocompromised persons to receive vaccines following the vaccination schedule.