‘Sinovac risks may outweigh benefits for children’

A government adviser on Covid-19 vaccines, Ben Cowling, said on Tuesday that he has reservations about letting young children take Sinovac jabs, hours after the chair of the Scientific Committee on Vaccine Preventable Diseases called for such a move.

Lau Yu-lung had said on an RTHK programme that Hong Kong should lower the minimum age for Sinovac vaccines from 16 to six, saying many young people would prefer the mainland-made coronavirus jab to the BioNTech one.

Lau also said the efficacy of Sinovac is “unquestionable”.

But Cowling, who is also a member of the committee, said in science “everything is questionable”, and it would be difficult to determine the benefits and risks of administering Sinovac jabs to children.

“We know the inactivated vaccines – like Sinovac – are not particularly effective at preventing infections. They’re better at limiting severe disease – which the children aren’t going to get anyway, most likely,” he told RTHK.

The epidemiology professor at Hong Kong University said in many parts of the world, the advice is that children should not be inoculated against Covid-19 because it’s been judged that the risks outweigh the benefits.