A co-chairman of the Medical Association's advisory committee on communicable diseases says he can't understand why the authorities threw away shots of BioNTech's coronavirus vaccine that had defective packaging, saying this must have hampered an investigation into the suspected problem.
The Hong Kong government suspended use of the jabs on Wednesday, saying that on 57 occasions, frontline vaccination workers had reported problems, including cracks in containers, loose caps, and stains or marks on the outside of bottles.
The Director of Health, Constance Chan, said the problematic doses had been dumped.
She also announced that mainland company Fosun, which distributes the BioNTech vaccine in the Greater China region, would be carrying out an immediate investigation, including a review of the whole logistics chain.
But on RTHK's Backchat programme on Friday morning, Dr Alvin Chan warned that the "evidence" appears to have been destroyed.
"I am quite surprised that the Hong Kong authorities said that they had already discarded all the problematic bottles, or the vials of vaccine, when they were detected to be faulty. That means we don't have those bottles as evidence for the company of BioNTech to check what had happened," he said.
"To investigate the problem, at least these faulty bottles need to be examined meticulously by the company ... to really solve the conundrum."
The doctor added that he was happy to hear that at least the suspect doses were not given to members of the public.
Despite the suspension, the government and BioNTech have both said that don't believe there is any safety issue involving the batch of vaccines in question. More than 150,000 Hongkongers have received shots from this batch.
“At this point, we have no reason to believe there is any safety risk posed to the population,” BioNTech said in a statement on Wednesday.
Speaking on the same radio show on Friday, Dr Henry Yeung a former president of Hong Kong Doctors' Union, agreed that the government was right to suspend the use of BioNTech jabs until an investigation is completed.
"Safety is the most important concern of the government and the medical profession. I think we have to ask the factory to look into the matter from all angles before we can continue the jab again," Yeung said.
"For me, I think both BioNTech and Sinovac are pretty safe for use ... I'm going to receive the second jab of the Sinovac today. I have full trust in those two vaccines."
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