BioNTech vaccines arrive, vaccination to start on March 3

The first doses of the BioNTech vaccine supplied by Fosun Pharma have arrived in Macau today, (Saturday), with vaccination to start on March 3, health authorities revealed.

The BioNtech mRNA vaccine has been produced in Germany and transported by plane via Hong Kong.

The first doses will be delivered to the Conde S. Januario Hospital today at 12:45 pm and sent directly to the hospital’s cold logistics warehouse to ensure the safety of the vaccine, which requires ultra-cold storage at -70 degrees Celsius (°C) in order to retain its potency when administered.

BioNTech vaccines require two shots, some 21 days apart, for an efficiency rate of 95 per cent, with common side effects after inoculation including fever, chills, tiredness, and headache, mostly mild to moderate.

With priority group vaccination initiated on February 9 and for general population vaccination on February 21, some 11,982 people have already been inoculated with some 29,353 people registered for vaccination as of yesterday.

Until now, only Sinopharm vaccine doses from an initial 100,000 batch developed by China National Biotech Group have been available to residents, however health authorities have indicated that people over 60 will no longer be allowed to be vaccinated with this vaccine due to health concerns.

“Individuals aged 60 years and over can only be vaccinated after assessing their needs, they must be in good health and at high risk of exposure,” the Health Bureau noted.

The Sinopharm vaccine must be administered to people aged 18 to 59 years, however, authorization from the European Union Medicines Agency indicates that the BioNTech mRNA vaccine can be administered to people aged 16 and over and is suitable for people aged 60 and over.

Because the interest of many people over the age of 60 was registered, but after clinical evaluation, it was found that they did not meet the conditions, the Services, also taking into account that the mRNA vaccine might not arrive on time, suspended the appointment of vaccines for this age group.

The scheduling of vaccination against COVID-19 for individuals aged or older over 60 years old was reopened at 9:00am of February 28, with this age group allowed to schedule bookings for the new vaccine.

The Macau government has purchased 500,000 doses of Covid-19 vaccine developed by Sinopharm; 400,000 doses of the mRNA-based vaccine by BioNTech, distributed in China by Fosun Pharma; and 400,000 doses of the vaccine developed by AstraZeneca.

Local vaccination is voluntary and free of charge, with residents able to register on a government online platform.

Residents can cancel an initial appointment for one type of vaccine and change it to another type.

After being vaccinated each person will be handed a certificate with an individual vaccination record to be displayed in individual health codes, and after receiving the two doses the respective Health Code will show that vaccination has been completed and a portable vaccination card against COVID-19 will be issued.

Some 12 vaccination posts will be available including the Conde Sao Januario Hospital 24-hour external consultation area and its two blood sample collection rooms, as well as 10 health centers and vaccination health post spread over the city.