The Health Bureau held an online meeting this morning with Fosun Pharma following the company’s request to suspend utilization of a batch of BioNTech-produced COVID-19 vaccines, due to packaging defects.
Macau has immediately suspended, “as a precautionary step, any vaccination due to use that batch, numbered 210102, in order to ensure the safety of the local vaccination program,” the Government Information Bureau (GCS) said today (Wednesday) in a statement.
BioNTech and Fosun Pharma said there was “no reason to doubt the safety of the vaccine.” Currently, Fosun Pharma has only requested suspension of the batch’s utilization – with immediate effect – until their investigation has concluded, but is not recalling the batch.
The Macau government remains in close contact with the vaccine supplier, to discuss other alternatives “including transfer from Hong Kong of another batch, or emergency shipment from Germany of newly-produced doses,” in order to resume the inoculations of that vaccine,” GCS added.
The Government learned the packaging defects mainly involved loosened aluminium caps on vaccine bottles. Macau has never administered vaccines held in bottles in such conditions. Before administering a vaccine, medical staff would carefully examine the vaccine package, and if it showed signs of being in abnormal condition, it would never be used in Macau.
As of Tuesday (March 23), a total of 6,215 BioNTech doses had been administered in Macau. In addition, 5,393 individuals had a booking pending for a dose of such vaccine. Of those, 1,520 were scheduled to have a first dose, and 3,873 had a booking for a second dose.
The Health Bureau has sent SMS messages to those people that had opted for the BioNTech vaccine and were awaiting a jab, informing them that the use of this vaccine had been suspended until further notice. Individuals that have not yet received any COVID-19 jab, would have the opportunity to choose the other vaccine currently available in Macau, produced by Sinopharm.