Hong Kong’s chief executive, Carrie Lam, and other top officials received the Sinovac coronavirus vaccine on Monday as the semiautonomous Chinese territory prepares to begin its mass inoculation campaign this week.
Hong Kong has made deals to buy 7.5 million doses each of the Pfizer, AstraZeneca and Sinovac vaccines, more than enough to inoculate its population of 7.5 million people. While the Pfizer and Sinovac vaccines have both been authorized by the Hong Kong government, AstraZeneca is still awaiting approval.
Widespread vaccinations are set to begin on Friday, with health care workers, people over 60, and nursing home residents and staff members receiving them first. But the Hong Kong public has shown growing hesitancy toward vaccines, with one survey last month showing that more than half of respondents did not plan to get vaccinated. An even larger proportion of residents said they would not take the Sinovac shot, which was developed by a private Chinese company and has faced scrutiny over a lack of data from late-stage clinical trials.
Mrs. Lam has urged all Hong Kong residents to get vaccinated and said that they would be able to choose which vaccine they receive.
Unlike Mrs. Lam and many other world leaders, China’s leader, Xi Jinping, has not publicly received a vaccination. Hua Chunying, spokeswoman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, declined to say whether Mr. Xi or the premier, Li Keqiang, had been vaccinated. But she noted that officials from Bahrain, Egypt, Indonesia, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates and other countries had publicly received the Sinovac vaccine.
Separately, the Philippines said on Monday that it had granted emergency use authorization for the Sinovac vaccine, with the first shipment of 600,000 doses set to arrive within days. Eric Domingo, director of the Food and Drug Administration, said that because the Sinovac vaccine had a lower efficacy rate among health care workers at risk of exposure to the virus, it was not recommended for that group, local news outlets reported. It is the third coronavirus vaccine to be approved in the Philippines, after Pfizer and AstraZeneca.