Vaccine advisers back lowering of BioNTech age limit

Hong Kong is poised to allow children as young as 12 to get the BioNTech vaccine, with a government adviser revealing that all members of the administration’s vaccine panel support the expansion.

Chinese University professor David Hui was speaking a day after the Department of Health said it had received an application from BioNTech’s Greater China partner Fosun Pharma to lower the minimum age for the jab from 16 years old to 12.

Phase three clinical trial data was also provided in support of the application.

“The Secretary for Food and Health will consider the suggestions by the Advisory Panel. It is expected that a decision on the application for lowering the age limit for vaccination can be reached in a short time,” a government statement said on Tuesday.

Speaking on a radio show on Wednesday morning, Hui quoted data from the manufacturer that the protection bestowed on those between the ages of 12 and 15 is as high as 100 percent.

They also had more antibodies than people in the 16-25 age group, Hui said, adding that they experienced normal side effects.

Hui said it was perhaps better to arrange for the teenagers to get the vaccination during the summer holidays and after exams, and outreach vaccination schemes at schools could be set up.

He added that if the vaccination rate among teachers and pupils reached as high as 60 or even 70 percent before the new school year begins in September, then the government can resume full-day classes.

Pupils can also be allowed to remove face masks during outdoor activities, he said.

However, Hui said viruses like flu can spread easily on campus, so it’s still better for pupils to wear masks in the classroom.