Chief Executive Carrie Lam says the government has secured 7.5 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine from mainland company Sinovac, as well as the same number of doses of the vaccine developed by the German firm BioNTech which will be manufactured and distributed by China's Fosun Pharma.
Lam said on Friday that the first 1 million doses from Sinovac could arrive in Hong Kong as soon as next month, and a million from BioNTech/Fosun should be delivered during the first quarter of next year.
She said the government is finalising an agreement with AstraZeneca, which is developing another coronavirus vaccine with Oxford University, for 7.5 million jabs, some of which will hopefully be sent to Hong Kong in the second half of 2021.
The CE said the authorities' goal is to acquire enough doses to give each person in the territory vaccines from two different manufacturers.
With double doses needed for the vaccines, the government will need to buy more from a fourth manufacturer, she added, without saying which company this would be.
Priority for the first doses will be given to vulnerable groups, including the elderly and chronically ill patients, and those deemed to be at high risk of catching the virus, such as carers in homes and medical staff, Lam said.
She added that hopefully, most Hong Kong people will be inoculated during the course of next year.
In light of the vaccine scandals on the mainland in the past, Lam was asked what she would say to anyone who had concerns about receiving the Sinovac jabs.
"Don't get involved in politics. Look at it from a totally depoliticised perspective. This is about science. This is about evidence. The experts will look at it and this drug would be authorised for use not only in Hong Kong, but in other places of the world," she replied.
An infectious disease specialist at Gleneagles Hospital, Dr Wilson Lam, acknowledged that people may have concerns about the vaccines for various reasons. But he also said people should make informed decisions based on science.
"I have some concerns whether people would be reluctant to get the jabs," he said.
"But given that we have more and more data coming out, I think the public should also listen to all these data and opinions from the government. If we have enough data, we should trust those data and that the vaccines are actually safe."
DAB lawmaker Ben Chan, for his part, praised the government for securing the vaccines so quickly and said to reassure anyone questioning how safe they are, officials should ask medical experts to vouch for the jabs.
Chan also urged the government to ask Beijing to allow Hong Kong people who have been inoculated to travel to the mainland without having to be quarantined.
"Those people who are working between the mainland and Hong Kong, nowadays they cannot go through both sides frequently, and some businesses have already stopped... So, I urge the government to discuss this request with the central government," he said.
Last updated: 2020-12-12 HKT 08:54
Vaccines from the mainland to arrive next month
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