‘BioNTech jab could soon be given at private clinics’

Private clinics might soon be able to administer BioNTech jabs after studies showed the Covid vaccines don’t need to be stored in ultra-cold conditions and that normal fridge temperatures are adequate.

This is according to the convenor of a government advisory panel on Covid-19 vaccines, Wallace Lau, who quoted data released last Friday by Fosun Pharma – the regional distributor of BioNTech.

“[It] told us that the BioNTech vaccines, which had to be stored at below minus 70 degrees [Celsius], can now be stored at 2-8 degrees for a month,” Lau told an RTHK programme on Thursday.

Currently, private clinics can only provide the mainland-made Sinovac vaccine, and those who opt for BioNTech jabs have to get them at a community inoculation centre.

Lau noted that Europe and the United States have relaxed the storage requirement for BioNTech jabs, and health officials here are carrying out tests to see if Hong Kong can follow suit.

Lau said he hopes clinics can take over the vaccination drive if inoculation centres close in September as planned.

The latest shipment of about 630,000 doses of the BioNTech vaccine arrived in Hong Kong on Wednesday from Germany.

Lau was also asked about Singapore’s decision to exclude those who get the Sinovac jab from the country’s vaccination figures on the grounds that there’s insufficient data to show it is effective against the more contagious Delta variant of the virus.

He said data provided by the manufacturer recently showed that Sinovac is effective against Covid variants.