COVID-19 Vaccines in Hong Kong: Which One to Choose? Have you decided to protect yourself and your community by getting a COVID-19 vaccine?
If the answer is yes, you currently have two vaccine options in Hong Kong.
To help you decide, we bring you unique insights from Healthy Matters’ Expert Advisory Board Member, Joseph Blais, Registered Pharmacist in Hong Kong.
In this guide you will find an exclusive comparison table of the most important vaccine information. If you need more details, there are additional resources at the end of this article. We hope that you find this guide useful.
For a full Chinese guide about COVID-19 Vaccine Options in Hong Kong, please click here.
Which vaccine should I choose? COVID-19 Vaccines in Hong Kong
This is a common question that healthcare professionals face when comparing all types of treatments, not only for COVID-19 vaccines. When comparing treatment choices for a particular disease or health condition, it is best to first evaluate the key characteristics of any drug or vaccine. Individuals choosing COVID-19 vaccines should consider these five characteristics in the following order:
1. Efficacy: How well does the vaccine work in the strict conditions of a randomized clinical trial?
2. Safety: What are the known vaccine side effects and how frequently do they occur in both the vaccine and placebo groups? What is the frequency of severe or rare side effects outside of the clinical trial setting?
3. Adherence: How simple is it to adhere to the recommended vaccine dosing schedule?
4. Cost: Fortunately, in Hong Kong there is no personal financial cost to receiving the COVID-19 vaccine. However, you should also consider the time required to book online (or at your doctor’s office), the time needed to receive the vaccine, and time to travel to your nearest community vaccination center.
5. Availability, personal preferences and values: Do you prefer getting the vaccine in your doctor’s office or at a community vaccination center? Do you want to read the published clinical trial results in a scientific journal?
The Hong Kong Government has signed purchasing contracts for three vaccines. Two vaccines (Comirnaty and CoronaVac) have been authorized for emergency use and are currently available in Hong Kong.
The shipment of the third vaccine from Oxford/AstraZeneca is suspended for the year, as the government announced amid concerns over rare cases of blood clots after the shot.
All information regarding the vaccines is regularly reviewed and updated accordingly.
Availability, preferences, values to consider – COVID-19 Vaccines in Hong Kong
Comirnaty (Fosun-BioNTech, aka Pfizer-BioNTech in rest of the world)
– Available at community vaccination centers.
– If you value getting a vaccine from a Chinese or European company, you’ll be able to do both since Fosun Pharma (based in China) and BioNTech (based in Germany) will share the profits of this vaccine sold in China.
– Included a large proportion of adults 65 years and older (21.4% [8613 participants]) in Phase 3 study.
– Does not contain: eggs, preservatives or latex.
– Approved in developed markets (e.g., US, Canada, UK, Singapore, EU) and by the WHO.
– Available in medical clinics (private and government general outpatient clinics) and some community vaccination centers
– Clinical trial results have been posted but not yet peer-reviewed/published.
– Limited inclusion of adults >60 years old (only 5.1%, or 632 participants in Brazil study). Although the small Phase 1/2 study from China suggest good immune response in adults >60.
– Active virus particles are grown in African green monkey kidney cells (Vero Cell), inactivated, then adsorbed by aluminum hydroxide.
– Does not contain: preservatives.
– Not yet approved in a major developed market (i.e. USA, Canada, Europe, or Japan) or by the WHO (under review).
– Not yet approved for emergency use in Hong Kong.
– Viral vector is produced in genetically modified human embryonic kidney cells (labelled as containing genetically modified organisms).
– Does not contain: preservatives.
– Approved for emergency use in developed markets (e.g., UK, Canada) and by the WHO.
Note: the Hong Kong government suspended the shipments of the AstraZeneca vaccine for the year amid concerns over a rare complication associated with its vaccination. The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine will not be available in Hong Kong in 2021.
Professional Opinion: Which vaccine is the best?
First, it is important to acknowledge that both available options (Comirnaty from BioNTech and CoronaVac from SinoVac) are good vaccines. Since there are no differences in cost and adherence (both are two dose vaccines), we will focus on comparing efficacy, safety, and availability.
Although difficult to directly compare because of differences in outcome definitions and study settings, Comirnaty appears to be highly effective against both symptomatic COVID-19 (this includes mild forms of the disease) and severe COVID-19. CoronaVac is also highly effective against severe COVID-19, arguably the more important outcome. However, some studies of CoronaVac suggest it may be less effective for mild symptomatic cases of COVID-19.
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