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The fight against vaccines in Hong Kong is fighting for public confidence

Hong Kong (AP) – The abrupt suspension of the COVID-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer և BioNTech in Hong Kong is another blow to the immunization program, which is already battling a wall of public distrust.

Hong Kong on Wednesday stopped using the Pfizer vaccine, which was distributed by the Chinese pharmaceutical company Fosun Pharma, after one of the two batches of the vaccine was found to contain defective packaging, such as free vial caps and bottle openings.

For now, Hong Kong residents can only get the Chinese-made Sinovac vaccine, which reportedly has an efficacy of 62%, compared to 97% for Pfizer. Sensitivity to the Sinovak shot has risen since the deaths of seven people vaccinated, although authorities say the deaths are not related to the vaccine.

When the government started vaccinating in February, 66-year-old Chan Yuet Lin wanted to be vaccinated. In the semi-annual Chinese mainland immigrant, he hoped the vaccine would eventually help him visit his family in mainland China, whom he had not seen since the outbreak without enduring severe quarantine.

But after watching news on television that several people with chronic diseases had died days after taking the Sinovak vaccine, Chan decided to get vaccinated.

“I have high blood pressure, high cholesterol and high blood sugar. “I do not think I can be filmed yet due to my health condition, I will wait and see,” he said, adding that he plans to seek medical advice during his next appointment.

Since vaccination began on February 26, some 5.7% of Hong Kong’s 7.2 million people have been vaccinated, which is far from the goal of vaccinating 70%. Slow absorption lags behind Singapore. It began delivering COVID-19 personnel a few days before Hong Kong և vaccinated more than 13% of its 5.7 million population.

The government has expanded the range of people who can shoot, allowing those over 30 to reach the age of 60, with higher priority given to industry workers. Discussions are open to anyone over the age of 16.

The slow progress of vaccinations may slow down the recovery of the city’s economy. Hong Kong is still struggling with coronavirus outbreaks, severe social’s remedies that are particularly hard on bars, restaurants, and the tourism industry. Unemployment rose to 7.2% in February, the highest level since 2004.

Hong Kong leader Kerry Lam և Health officials are urging people to get vaccinated. They claim that the shots, including the Sinovac vaccine, are safe. The former British colony of Hong Kong has high hopes for tourism, but has been closed to foreign visitors since March 2020, and Lam says social distance warnings and border controls can only be eased once most people are hired.

“If we can’t control the epidemic, we can do nothing for the economy,” he told lawmakers last week.

Vaccine skepticism partly reflects growing distrust of the government, as Beijing says its influence is growing in the wake of anti-government protests in 2019. Authorities arrested and detained dozens of pro-democracy activists under a new strict national security law.

Some residents are worried about the seven deaths that occurred after the Sinovak shooting.

“According to the government, none of the deaths are related to the vaccine. “Most patients have cardiovascular conditions, so there must be an association, but the government seems to be trying to separate it,” said Belinda Lin, a 30-year-old Hong Kong resident.

“It is a matter of responsibility, willingness to take responsibility. “I have not seen it yet,” said Lin, who is not planning on getting vaccines because he says there is a lack of research showing long-term effects.

“From what we’ve seen so far in the news, people seem to have more side effects than the (Sinovac) vaccine, which is less effective,” said Agnes Wong, chief sales officer in Hong Kong, who also did not plan to be vaccinated. ,

Anxiety vaccines developed in less than a year using clinical trials at different levels are not limited to Hong Kong.

In Europe, reports of blood clotting problems following the AstraZeneca shooting have caused concern. So you have questions about some clinical data from AstraZeneca.

The number of people who have booked but failed to attend their Sinovac vaccination is currently around 20%, up from about 11% of the week included in the plan. That compares to 5% off Pfizer shooting without showing up before they stop.

Martin Wong, a professor at the Chinese University of Hong Kong in January, co-authored a study showing that only 37% of Hong Kong residents are ready for COVID-19 vaccines. He says the technology used, the manufacturer’s history և reports of side effects can affect the willingness to hire staff.

The government has advised people with chronic illnesses to consult their doctors before receiving COVID-19 vaccines. It can be difficult for very vulnerable Hong Kong seniors, says Ivan Lin of the Society for the Advancement of Communities.

“The public health system needs to be more proactive in providing advice,” Lin said. “For many of these seniors, their long-term illnesses are cared for in public hospitals, where appointments take place every three months, so they are unable to get (timely) medical advice.”

The policies that will reward people for getting vaccinated are possible, Wong said.

“New incentives may be required, such as the release of certain travel restrictions or the issuance of a vaccine certificate that can be used for a variety of purposes,” he said.

Mayor Lahm noted that the government may consider measures such as easing certain restrictions on social distance. Hong Kong is also in talks with Chinese authorities to ease restrictions on vaccinated travelers.

It may work for some.

Bonal Hussein, a doctoral student at Hong Kong Polytechnic University, signed up for his first shot of the Sinovak vaccine after learning that China had eased its policy by allowing foreign workers and their families to apply for visas.

Hussein’s wife and 5-year-old son are in China. He has not seen them since January 2020.

“I hope that maybe in the near future China will open its borders to vaccinated students,” he said.

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