Inquest told man was chronically ill before Covid jab

An inquest into the death of a man two days after he received a Sinovac coronavirus jab has heard that he suffered from chronic illnesses including hypertension and heart problems, but he had not been classified as unsuitable for vaccination.

Timble Li, 63, got the vaccine at a community centre at Kwun Chung Sports Centre on February 26 – the day the city’s vaccination campaign started.

Experiencing shortness of breath two days later, he sought treatment at Queen Elizabeth Hospital and died the same day.

On the first day of a nine-day inquest, Li’s brother told the Coroner’s Court that Li was a smoker who rarely exercised, but also rarely drank alcohol.

Li lived alone, a friend told the court, adding that Li had told him he suffered from high blood pressure, high cholesterol, high blood sugar levels, and clogged heart arteries.

The friend said Li smoked one to two packets of cigarettes a day and was a bit fat. He was also waiting to have a coronary angioplasty procedure, the witness said.

He said Li had experienced chest discomfort about a week before he received the jab, but his condition improved after he went to a doctor and took some medication.

Meanwhile, a pharmacist working at DCH Auriga, a pharmaceutical distributor which transported the vaccine to Hong Kong from Beijing, told the court that his company had made sure that a suitable low temperature for the vaccines was maintained throughout the delivery process.

A Centre for Health Protection pharmacist told the court that there had not been any problem with the way the jabs were stored at the vaccination centre.

Another witness, Ko Kiu-kin, manager of the vaccination centre, said he had handed out sheets on the day in question telling people what they needed to know about the jabs.

He said the information sheets stated clearly that people with “uncontrolled severe chronic diseases” should not receive the Sinovac vaccine.

Ko said two people were classified as unsuitable for vaccination that day, but Li was not one of them.

A nurse from Virtus Medical Group, who administered jabs at the centre, told the inquest that nurses asked those receiving the vaccine whether they had any chronic illnesses, whether they had felt unwell recently, or if they had any drug allergies.

She said if the medical condition of a chronically ill patient was unstable, nurses would refer the matter to a doctor on site, or advise people to first discuss the jabs with their family doctor.