Asia Today: Hong Kong gets Pfizer vaccines as 2nd option

HONG KONG (AP) – Over 500,000 doses of the PfizerBioNTech vaccine arrived in Hong Kong on Saturday following a two-day delay due to export procedures, offering a second inoculation option for the city.

The PfizerBioNTech shots will be offered to about 2.4 million eligible residents from priority groups such as those aged 60 and above and health care workers.

The 585,000 doses of the vaccine – the first batch of the initial 1 million – arrived from Germany. The remaining doses will be delivered in early March, according to a government statement.

About 70,000 residents who have registered for Hong Kong’s vaccination program, which kicked off on Friday, will receive the shots developed by Chinese biopharmaceutical firm Sinovac. The Sinovac vaccines were the first to arrive last week.

About 6,000 people have already been injected with the Sinovac vaccine. Registration details for those wishing to receive the PfizerBioNTech shots haven’t been announced yet.

Hong Kong has struck deals for a total of 22.5 million doses, with 7.5 million each from Sinovac, AstraZeneca and Fosun Pharma, which is delivering the PfizerBioNTech vaccines. The government has so far approved the Sinovac and PfizerBioNTech vaccines.

In other developments around the Asia-Pacific region:

– South Korea has reported another 405 coronavirus cases as it began vaccinating tens of thousands of workers at front-line hospitals in the second day of its mass immunization program. The daily increase reported by the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency on Saturday brought the national caseload to 89,321, including 1,595 deaths. Most of the new cases came from the densely populated Seoul metropolitan area, which was hit hardest by a devastating winter surge that erased months of hard-won gains and sparked criticism about the vaccine rollout that has been slower than many nations in the West.

– Sri Lanka’s Health Ministry has decided to vaccinate everyone aged 30 and above in the high-risk areas of the capital Colombo and suburbs where COVID-19 cases are rising. There were 466 new cases in the last 24 hours. Sri Lankan began its inoculation drive in January starting with health workers. So far, more than 406,000 people have received their shots.

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