A health expert on Thursday warned that Hong Kong's Covid vaccine rollout next month might be slowed down, if jabs produced by mainland company Sinovac cannot be delivered on time.
Leung Pak-yin, who is a member of a special taskforce in charge of the city's coronavirus vaccination programme, said it is a "major problem" that the government is facing.
The Chief Executive, Carrie Lam, said in December that one million doses of vaccine from Sinovac could arrive in Hong Kong in January at the earliest, but the mainland firm has since delayed the release of results from some of its late-stage trials.
Leung said authorities had hoped to first give the Sinovac jabs to the elderly, especially those living in care homes. He said this is because the Sinovac jabs are easier to handle than the ones developed by BioNTech, which need to be kept at very low temperatures and require a special dilution procedure before they can be administered.
"If only the BioNTech shots arrive next month, we will vaccinate people slowly," he said.
"So whether the Sinovac vaccines can be approved and arrive in Hong Kong soon will have a great impact on our vaccination plan."
Meanwhile, he said the benefits of getting vaccinated should be highlighted, suggesting that close contacts of confirmed patients could be exempt from quarantine if they have been vaccinated and have tested negative for the virus.