BioNTech vaccinations have restarted in Hong Kong following a 12-day suspension over packaging defects, putting the city’s Covid-19 inoculation drive back on track for the widespread protection of its population and the ultimate goal of herd immunity.
The development returns the Hong Kong campaign to a two-vaccine approach, with doses from Chinese company Sinovac also being administered to the public.
While both versions were accepted for emergency use in Hong Kong, BioNTech’s jab has also secured approval from the World Health Organization (WHO), which is expected to do the same for the Sinovac one by the end of April.
As of Wednesday, 516,000 people, or 6.9% of Hongkongers, had received their first Covid-19 vaccine dose. Of those, some 143,600, amounting to 1.9% of the population, had also taken their second jab.
Can fully vaccinated people travel more freely?
Not yet. Last month, Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said authorities were considering ways of driving up vaccinations in the city, such as exempting recipients from certain travel restrictions and social-distancing rules.
Hong Kong has relaunched efforts to strike quarantine-free “travel bubble” arrangements with popular tourist destinations such as Japan and South Korea.
Authorities urged residents to get vaccinated if they hoped to take advantage of a travel bubble with Singapore, which the city negotiated last November only for the plan to be aborted after a spike in cases.
Karen Grepin, associate professor at HKU’s school of public health, said Hong Kong would have to meet at least three criteria before the city could open its borders to vaccinated travelers. They include very high vaccination rates among its general public, low levels of virus transmission in places where people are travelling to and from, as well as vaccine certification and a validation mechanism that was recognised worldwide.
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