MUST carrying out trial mRNA vaccination services for tourists

The Macau University of Science and Technology (MUST) is carrying out a trial for mRNA Covid-19 vaccination services to tourists and visitors in Macau SAR.

The university has initiated a trial scheme originally between August 24 and 31, now extended until September 10, that allows non-residents to receive an mRNA BioNTech vaccine for MOP1,000 (US$125).

The trial covers mainland tourists and visitors, with mRNA vaccination currently not available in mainland China.

Non-resident workers and students in the SAR are already allowed to be vaccinated in the city for free.

Trial period service hours were set between Monday to Saturday and from 10:00am to 3:30pm, with non-residents allowed vaccination services without prior booking.

Recent research from the MUST Faculty of Medicine has found that people taking the BioNTech mRNA vaccine as the third booster dose produces more neutralizing antibodies against Omicron variants.

Some 91.2 per cent of the local population has been vaccinated for Covid-19, of which only 15.6 per cent has received any mRNA vaccine dose.

So far, the Chinese drug regulator has approved seven COVID-19 vaccines, with most residents of China are vaccinated with one of two inactivated-virus vaccines, either CoronaVac, made by Beijing-based company Sinovac, or BBIBP-CorV, made by the state-supported company Sinopharm in Beijing.

Chinese companies had planned to import the mRNA vaccine made by BioNTech and Pfizer.

As early as March 2020, a Shanghai-based drug company, Fosun Pharma, struck a deal with BioNTech to sell its vaccine on the Chinese mainland and in Hong Kong once the regulators greenlit the product.

But the approval of the vaccine is still pending on the mainland, despite data from a phase II trial in China showing that the vaccine triggers a robust immune response and is safe to use in adults.

Chinese health authorities are currently attempting to develop China’s first approved mRNA vaccine, known as ArCoV.