Govt advisers: frail elderly can get Biontech jab - RTHK
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Govt advisers: frail elderly can get Biontech jab

2021-02-11 HKT 21:52
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  • Work continues on producing BioNTech vaccines at a plant in Germany. File photo: Reuters
    Work continues on producing BioNTech vaccines at a plant in Germany. File photo: Reuters
Hong Kong's Covid-19 vaccination push was given a boost on Thursday after government advisers recommended that the benefits of giving most frail, elderly people the BioNTech jab outweigh any risks.

An advisory panel recommended last month that the BioNTech vaccine should be given emergency approval, but they expressed reservations amid reports of deaths in a number of frail elderly people after vaccination in Norway.

Now, after examining further information, the Joint Scientific Committee on Emerging and Zoonotic Disease and Scientific Committee on Vaccine Preventable Diseases and the Expert Advisory Panel to the Chief Executive said the benefits of the jab outweighed the risks.

The two groups "considered that there is currently no evidence suggestive of any unexpected or untoward increase in mortality in frail elderly following the use of BNT162b2", the scientific name of the vaccine.

"There is also no clear evidence suggesting the reported deaths were due to the use of BNT162b2," they added.

The groups based the decision on additional information gleaned by the Department of Health, including from overseas regulators and media reports, as well as information from the World Health Organisation.

However, the groups said that in the very frail elderly, such as bed-ridden residents of care homes, clinicians should make a further evaluation of the risks and benefits and exercise "greater caution".

"For the very frail elderly, any mild adverse event from pharmaceutical products including vaccines might worsen their original disease course or condition," the experts said.

BioNTech and its Greater China partner, Fosun Pharma, are expected to deliver one million doses of the vaccine from Europe to Hong Kong later this month. The government has ordered 7.5 million doses of the vaccine and the same quantity of two other jabs.

Experts are seeking more information on the mainland's SinoVac jab, although they have found it to be safe and effective. Vaccines from AstraZeneca are not expected to arrive until later in the year.