The first batch of 100,000 doses of inactivated vaccine are likely to land in Macau, at the earliest, this week, and vaccination for prioritized groups will commence around the Spring Festival, Dr Alvis Lo, medical director of the Conde de São Januário Hospital confirmed in yesterday’s media briefing hosted by the Novel Coronavirus Response and Coordination Center.
There are three groups of people prioritized in Macau’s vaccination rollout. They include the frontline anti-epidemic workers like medical workers; people with a relatively high occupational exposure to Covid-19 such as aviation staff, and people who are planning to travel to high-risk epidemic areas.
Lo stated that these groups can receive their first shots — on a voluntary basis — around the period of Lunar New Year this month.
He ascribed the prompt arrival of the inactivated vaccines, developed by China’s state-owned pharmaceutical company Sinopharm Group, to “the strong backing of the country.”
According to the official anti-coronavirus website, the inactivated vaccine by Sinopharm Group has a prevention efficacy of 80%. In December 2020, the results of clinical trials of Sinopharm’s vaccines conducted in the United Arab Emirates suggested that the vaccine has 86% efficacy.
The other two types of vaccines are soon to become available, also. Around 100,000 doses of mRNA-based vaccines, developed by German drug manufacturer BioNTech and proxied by Fosun Pharma — with over 90% efficacy — are expected to arrive in Macau in late February. The debut vaccination of the mRNA vaccine is slated to commence in March.
The third and last vaccine type, the replication-defective adenovirus vector vaccines, manufactured by British-Swedish pharmaceutical firm AstraZeneca, with an efficacy ranging between 60% and 90%, will arrive in Macau around the third quarter of 2021, Lo said.
In the briefing, Lo gave reassurance to locals who are not classified as prioritized groups, confirming that “the amount of vaccines the SAR government pre-ordered suffices to offer inoculations for all residents in Macau,” and it will roll out in due course.
Currently, the city’s 47th Covid-19 patient, a 43-year-old female who returned to Macau and tested positive on January 21, is still hospitalized in the isolation ward at the Conde de São Januário Hospital.
According to Lo, the patient is now in a “stable condition” and a medical check-up conducted on January 30 confirmed she has not developed any symptoms of pneumonia.
When asked by the media whether Macau would implement anal swab tests, Lo stated that the city currently has no plan to introduce the anal swab method for Covid-19 testing — which has been adopted by some Chinese cities and is said to be more accurate than nasal or throat testing.
“Considering the effectiveness, convenience and public acceptance over the current [coronavirus] testing methods Macau, we have no plans to bring in other Covid-19 testing methods for the time being,” he explained.
Secretary Elsie Ao Ieong reaffirms Q1 vaccine target
The government is still targeting the first quarter of this year to roll out a SARS-CoV-2 vaccination scheme, Secretary for Social Affairs and Culture, Elsie Ao Ieong U, said yesterday.
On the sidelines of the inauguration of the Education and Youth Development Bureau (DSEDJ), the senior official was asked about the progress of a vaccination scheme in the city. Hong Kong has recently announced it will roll out a similar scheme within the same quarter.
“Once the vaccines are here, we’ll commence registration processes,” Ao Ieong disclosed.
She stressed that the government has not stopped working on the scheme, including shortlisting eligible groups of people for prioritized vaccination.
“For the time being, we tend to include medical staff, border checkpoint staff, casino croupiers, teaching staff, public and cross-border transport drivers, as well as urgent travelers,” said the official.
By “urgent travelers” the senior official was referring to students who need to depart from Macau for study, business travelers and non-locals who must return home, among other examples.