Serious adverse reactions of Sinovac COVID-19 vaccine in HK are within the expected range: experts
No evidence found to link deaths with vaccines: experts
By Leng Shumei and Chen Qingqing Published: Mar 09, 2021 12:01 AM
A Hong Kong expert team said Monday that they deemed that the second death case in the city following vaccination of Sinovac vaccines was not related to the vaccine as the autopsy report showed that the cause of death of the recipient, a 55-year-old woman, was myocardial infarction and she had an aortic laceration.
The woman accepted the Sinovac vaccine on March 2 and died on Saturday from a stroke. An autopsy report showed that she had serious chronic disease like high blood pressure and high cholesterol, Ivan Hung Fan Ngai, a co-convener of the committee assessing clinical cases related to vaccines in Hong Kong, said at a press conference on Monday.
A total of 91,800 doses of COVID-19 vaccines developed by Sinovac and 1,200 doses developed by BioNTech have been administered in Hong Kong as of Sunday, and 64 percent of the vaccinated population are people aged 60 and above, Ronald Lam Man-kin, Controller of the Centre for Health Protection of the Department of Health said at the press conference.
As of 4 pm Saturday, 16 non-serious cases, like fever and headaches, and 45 other non-serious cases with susceptible adverse effects that need to be hospitalized have been reported to the authorities, Lam said.
Two susceptible adverse effect cases have also been reported between March 6 and 8, with the two recipients still accepting treatment in the Intensive Care Department. But the experts decided that their symptoms were not caused by the vaccines after reviewing their materials, Hung said.
According to Hung, the first susceptible adverse effect case is an 80-year-old man who is currently in danger. He has diabetes and previously had a stroke.
The second case is a 72-year-old woman. Documents show that her symptoms are related to the suspension of insulin by herself, Lee Cheuk Kwong, another co-convener of the committee, said.
Another susceptible death has been reported on Monday - a 71-year-old man who accepted the first shot on March 3, Lee said, noting that the committee would review the information and decide the cause of the man's death after autopsy.
Hung noted that 4.4 million doses of Sinovac COVID-19 vaccine have been administered worldwide with 56 deaths reported outside Hong Kong.
Hong Kong kicked off mass vaccinations on February 26.
Hong Kong will continue the vaccination program as planned following reports of some deaths and susceptible adverse effects. So far, no evidence was found to directly link the issues to the vaccination of Sinovac COVID-19 vaccine CoronaVac, Secretary for Food and Health Sophia Chan Siu-chee said at another press conference on Monday.
The city will accelerate vaccinations and expand provisions to seven more priority groups, about 3.7 million people, including catering service employees, delivery men and school employees, Secretary for the Civil Service Patrick Nip Tak-kuen said Monday.
Chan noted that people with chronic diseases that have not been put under control should not accept the vaccines and people with a serious allergy history should ask doctors for advice before taking the vaccine.
Chan reiterated that two COVID-19 vaccines currently used in Hong Kong are safe and effective and it is of more benefit than risk to accept them.
In an exclusive interview with Yin Weidong, CEO of Chinese vaccine producer Sinovac Biotech, following reports of the first susceptible death in the city, Yin told the Global Times that "We are confident in the overall safety of the Sinovac vaccine as it was proven to be safe from observations of mass vaccinations."
Feng Duojia, president of the China Vaccine Industry Association, told the Global Times on Monday that data and vaccinations in other areas including the Chinese mainland have demonstrated the quality of Sinovac's vaccine is not in question.
Usually, side effects of vaccinations would happen no longer than one hour after vaccination, but the three deaths occurred 2-4 days later, Feng explained, saying that he believes the deaths were just a coincidence with vaccinations.
"As the COVID-19 vaccination is the largest vaccination program conducted in Hong Kong covering a lot of people with various physical conditions, reports of adverse effects would keep occurring along with the progress of the program, but as far as I can see the incidence rate is still within a normal scope. So there is no need to worry," Feng said.
Tong Kai Sing, vice president of the Association of Licentiates of Medical Council of Hong Kong, agrees with Feng and blamed some Hong Kong media for sensationalizing the issue.
"Normally, vaccines are very safe, and deaths would only occur when the injection causes serious allergic reactions. But serious side effects would occur within 15 minutes after injection, and it is very unlikely that death on the following days is caused by the injection," Tong told Global Times previously.
According to the Hong Kong authority's guidance for injection of CoronaVac, people with uncontrolled severe chronic diseases should not accept COVID-19 vaccines; people with diabetes and impaired immune functions, such as a malignant tumor, nephritic syndrome or AIDS, should talk to doctors before accepting vaccines.
Feng warned that even doctors would ask the recipients about their health condition before vaccination. Some recipients may not know their conditions, which would increase the risk of accepting vaccines.
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