Hong Kong yesterday suspended use of the Pfizer vaccine after its Chinese distributor informed the government that one batch had defective bottle lids.
The government said the suspension was immediate while the matter is investigated by distributor Fosun Pharma and BioNTech, the German company that created the vaccine with US pharmaceutical company Pfizer.
BioNTech and Fosun Pharma have not found any reason to believe the product is unsafe, the statement said.
However, vaccinations have been halted as a preventive and safety measure.
The defective lids were found on vaccines from batch number 210102. A separate batch of vaccines, 210104, will also be not be administered.
Macau yesterday said that its residents would not receive the Pfizer shots from the same batch.
The vaccines from the batch comprise a total of 585,000 doses, with the other batch number 210104 holding 758,000 doses, Hong Kong Director of Health Constance Chan (陳漢儀) said.
Although about 150,000 doses from batch number 210102 have been administered in the territory so far, officials told a news briefing yesterday that the vaccines were safe to us, despite the packaging defects, and that suspending the vaccination was a precautionary measure.
Batch number 210104 remains in the warehouse and has not been used.
Chan said that there were more than 40 instances when medical personnel found defective packaging, such as cracks on the vaccine bottles or leakages when the vaccine was diluted with saline before being administered.
None of these vaccines was given to residents and they were thrown away, officials said.
“Fosun has promised to carry out an immediate investigation, so they are going to approach the manufacturer in Germany to look into their plant,” Chan said. “When the vaccines arrive in Hong Kong, they will have a review of the whole logistics chain to see if that’s the cause of the current situation.”
She said that officials are urging manufacturers to give a report as soon as possible to check if the batches of vaccines in Hong Kong can be used, otherwise the manufacturers will have to deliver another batch of shots as soon as possible.
Residents who are slated to receive their second Pfizer dose starting on Saturday should get the second shot administered as soon as possible, if new vaccines arrive in Hong Kong after the recommended 19 to 42-day window following the first dose.
BioNTech could not be immediately reached for comment.
Fosun Pharma said in a filing to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange that it received notice from BioNTech regarding the packaging defects on Tuesday night, and informed Hong Kong and Macau authorities yesterday to temporarily suspend the vaccines.
The suspension of the Pfizer jab means the only vaccine currently offered to residents is China’s Sinovac.
The two vaccines are the only ones that were offered to residents in Hong Kong.
BEIJING BAILOUT: Pyongyang’s economic woes would not lead to famine because China will not let that happen due to its fear of a pro-US unified Korea, experts say North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has called for another “arduous march” to fight severe economic difficulties, for the first time comparing them to a 1990s famine that killed hundreds of thousands. Kim had previously said his nation faces its “worst-ever” situation due to several factors — including the COVID-19 pandemic, US-led sanctions and natural disasters in the summer last year — but it is the first time he has publicly drawn a parallel with the deadly famine. North Korea monitoring groups have not detected any signs of mass starvation or a humanitarian disaster, but Kim’s comments still suggest how seriously he views
SUBMERGED 6,500M: The 115m-long ship was sunk on Oct. 25, 1944, in the Battle of Leyte Gulf as the US fought to recover the Philippines from Japanese occupation A US Navy destroyer sunk during World War II and lying nearly 6,500m below sea level off the coast of the Philippines has been reached in the world’s deepest shipwreck dive, a US exploration team said. A crewed submersible filmed, photographed and surveyed the wreckage of the USS Johnston off the coast of Samar Island during two eight-hour dives completed late last month, Texas-based undersea technology company Caladan Oceanic said. The 115m-long ship was sunk on Oct. 25, 1944, during the Battle of Leyte Gulf as US forces fought to recover the Philippines, then a US colony, from Japanese occupation. Its location in
‘VOSTOK 1’: The first flight attempt is planned to coincide with the 60th anniversary of the first space flight by Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin NASA’s Ingenuity mini-helicopter has survived its first night alone on the frigid surface of Mars, the US space agency said, hailing it as “a major milestone” for the tiny craft as it prepares for its first flight. The ultra-light aircraft was dropped on the surface on Saturday after detaching from the belly of the Perseverance rover, which touched down on Feb. 18. Detached from the Perseverance, Ingenuity had to rely on its own solar-powered battery to run a vital heater to protect its unshielded electrical components from freezing and cracking during the bitter Martian night, where temperatures can plunge as low as
LOSING CONTROL? Fitch Solutions said that a revolution pitting the military against the anti-coup movement and ethnic militias was likely due to the rising violence Burmese security forces yesterday arrested Paing Takhon, a model and actor who had spoken out against a military coup, his sister told reporters, as people placed shoes filled with flowers in parts of Yangon to commemorate dead protesters. Troops on Wednesday opened fire on protesters, killing at least 15 people and wounding dozens, protesters and media said. Nearly 600 civilians have been killed by security forces since the junta in February seized power from the elected government of Aung San Su Kyi, the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners said on Wednesday. The advocacy group said that 2,847 were being held in detention. A spokesman