Booster jabs should come when HK reopens: expert

Infectious diseases expert Ben Cowling said on Friday that he believes booster vaccines against Covid will only be needed in Hong Kong when international travel gets going again.

The University of Hong Kong professor’s comment came as some fully vaccinated executive councillors announced they had received booster doses as part of a clinical study.

Cowling said he believes Hongkongers will need Covid booster jabs sooner or later, but this should wait until the city fully reopens to the rest of the world.

“Right now because we have a zero Covid strategy, and because there’s no Covid in Hong Kong, it may not yet be the right time to have a booster dose campaign. Maybe we can wait a little bit longer until we have a plan to maybe reopen and go back to normal, relax the Covid measures. And at that point, the booster doses could be part of that plan for reopening,” he said.

“We can’t give boosters too often, so if we do boosters now, it may not be possible to do another round of boosters next year.”

The expert also said he was a bit worried that Hong Kong doesn’t seem to be heading for a reopening anytime soon.

“We’re getting a higher and higher vaccine coverage. Covid poses less and less of a threat to us. And if we’re not able to open the boundary with the mainland, and we’re also not able to open with the rest of the world, then I think we’re gonna be very isolated for some time. So we have to go one way or the other. I’m a bit worried that at the moment it looks like we’re not going in either direction,” he said.

Despite saying booster jabs can wait, Cowling praised those joining a clinical trial on third doses carried out by the Hong Kong Sanatorium and Hospital, saying they are doing the public a service.

“It’s always great when people are willing to participate in research. I think that maybe by next year, when other people are getting booster doses, they’ll be grateful that people have participated in these kinds of research studies that provided the evidence to support the use of booster doses and the choice of booster doses. So that’s good I think.”