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100,000 BioNTech jabs, another 400,000 Sinopharm jabs arrive in Macau

2021-03-01 03:52     Comment:1

The first batch of 100,425 doses of BioNTech mRNA vaccines arrived in Macau from Germany via Hong Kong on Saturday, while the second batch of 400,000 doses of Sinopharm inactivated vaccines was delivered to Macau from Beijing yesterday.

The inoculations with BioNTech vaccines will start on Wednesday. The Macau government has said that due to the need for medical workers to familiarise themselves with the process of administering BioNTech mRNA jabs, which require strict temperature storage conditions, the BioNTech inoculations will be carried out at the public Conde de São Januário Hospital Centre in the first two weeks, only after which the mRNA jabs will also be available at public health centres and public health stations.

BioNTech is the second kind of COVID-19 vaccine delivered to Macau. The first batch of 100,000 doses of Sinopharm vaccines arrived here on February 6. The Macau government has ordered a total of 500,000 doses of Sinopharm vaccines.

The government’s inoculation drive started on February 9 covering those in priority groups such as medical workers, firefighters, police and customs officers, air crew members, public transport drivers, staff of social service facilities, teaching staff and casino workers – i.e. the campaign’s first phase, before the second phase, which covers all local residents, commenced on Monday last week.

The COVID-19 jabs are free of charge. Each person requires two jabs. Macau’s population stands at about 680,000. The government has said that its free-of-charge COVID-19 vaccination drive will include Macau’s about 175,000 non-resident workers later this year – i.e. the vaccination drive’s third phase.

‘Wait-and-see attitude’

Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of a ceremony that marked the delivery of the 400,000 Sinopharm jabs at the Zhuhai Macau Cross-border Industrial Zone checkpoint in Ilha Verde yesterday evening, Health Bureau (SSM) Director Lei Chin Ion noted that now a total of 600,425 doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been delivered to Macau which will be sufficient for 300,000 residents to get two jabs.

Lei said that since the launch of the government’s COVID-19 vaccination drive, some 30,000 residents have made an appointment to be inoculated against the novel coronavirus. Lei admitted that residents are still having “a wait-and-see attitude” on deciding whether to have their COVID-19 jabs as Macau currently doesn’t have any active COVID-19 cases.

Lei insisted that Macau has a “sound” achievement concerning the number of residents making an appointment to get their COVID-19 jabs considering that the city currently isn’t directly affected by COVID-19.

“Compared to some other places like Hong Kong and the UK, we [Macau] have differences [in the percentage of the population having had COVID-19 jabs]. This is natural, because Macau has no [COVID-19] epidemic and no patients. It is natural that residents are adopting a wait-and-see attitude,” Lei said.

The government’s Novel Coronavirus Response and Coordination Centre said in a statement last night that as of 6 p.m. yesterday, 32,050 people had made an appointment for their COVID-19 jabs, 14,426 of whom have meanwhile had their first one.

The 400,000 Sinopharm jabs arrived in Macau by four chiller lorries after a 30-hour drive from Beijing. The vaccines were delivered by Nam Kwong Logistics.

Lei also pointed out that Macau has ordered a total of 1.5 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines, comprising 500,000 doses of Sinopharm inactivated vaccines, 400,000 BioNTech mRNA vaccines, and 400,000 doses of AstraZeneca-Oxford adenovirus vector vaccines, apart from 200,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines from the COVAX Facility – the global vaccine allocation plan jointly run by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance.

Lei also revealed that Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance has recently told the Macau government that 60,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines could be provided to Macau. As Macau has already received Sinopharm and BioNTech jabs, the local government has decided not to accept the COVAX vaccines for the time being so as to “avoid waste” and told Gavi to allocate the jabs to countries and regions in need – poor ones or those with a serious COVID-19 epidemic.

Lei also reaffirmed that the second batch of 100,000 BioNTech vaccines will be delivered to Macau later this month.

The centre has said that the 29,353 people who had made an appointment for their COVID-19 jabs as of 9 p.m. on Friday comprised 25,897 who had an appointment for Sinopharm inactivated jabs, 3,369 BioNTech mRNA jabs and 87 AstraZeneca-Oxford adenovirus vector jabs.

‘Not sure’ AstraZeneca-Oxford jabs will arrive as scheduled

When asked why residents can choose AstraZeneca-Oxford jabs in the government’s COVID-19 vaccination appointment system considering the government’s remarks according to which AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccines are expected to be delivered to Macau only in the second half of this year, Lei said that the government has repeatedly said that the AstraZeneca-Oxford adenovirus vector jabs will be delivered to Macau in the second half of this year “but for residents who have made an appointment for adenovirus vector jabs and want to wait for them… we cannot however, make sure that the jabs will really be delivered [to Macau as scheduled]”.

Macau’s COVID-19 vaccinations are currently carried out at two inoculation facilities at the public Conde de São Januário Hospital Centre, eight public health centres and two public health stations. The government’s 12 COVID-19 vaccination facilities run from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily, where 5,000 places for COVID-19 vaccinations are available per day.


A traffic police motorcycle precedes a Nam Kwong chiller lorry delivering Sinopharm inactivated jabs outside the Zhuhai Macau Cross-border Industrial Zone checkpoint in Ilha Verde on its way to a warehouse to be stored after their arrival from Beijing yesterday evening. Photo: Tony Wong


Health Bureau (SSM) staff unload Germany’s BioNTech mRNA vaccines from a chiller lorry outside the public Conde de São Januário Hospital Centre on Saturday. Photo: Iong Tat Choi

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  • visitors2021030105:362021-03-01 05:36

    Meanwhile, speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the arrival of the 100,425 BioNTech mRNA jabs at the public hospital, Lei pointed out that mRNA jabs must be stored at a temperature of -70 degrees Celsius. After defrosting, the jabs must be stored at a temperature of between two and eight degrees Celsius in thermal boxes and used within five days, Lei said, adding that therefore medical workers would need time to familiarise themselves with the process of administering the BioNTech jabs, because of which the BioNTech inoculations will only be carried out at the public hospital in the first two weeks, only after which the mRNA jabs will also be available at public health centres and public health stations.

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