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Hong Kong: BioNTech, distributer find no vaccine safety issues in initial probe

FILE - In this Feb. 23, 2021, file photo, health workers look at a vial and a syringe while administering a dose of the Sinovac Biotech COVID-19 vaccine at a community vaccination center in Hong Kong. Hong Kong's sudden suspension of a COVID-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech is another blow to a vaccination program already struggling against a wall of public distrust. Hong Kong on Wednesday, March 24, 2021, suspended use of the Pfizer vaccine, distributed by Chinese pharmaceutical firm Fosun Pharma, after defective packaging such as loose vial lids and cracks on bottles were found in one of two batches of the vaccine. (Paul Yeung/Pool Photo via AP, File) (AP)Premium
FILE - In this Feb. 23, 2021, file photo, health workers look at a vial and a syringe while administering a dose of the Sinovac Biotech COVID-19 vaccine at a community vaccination center in Hong Kong. Hong Kong's sudden suspension of a COVID-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech is another blow to a vaccination program already struggling against a wall of public distrust. Hong Kong on Wednesday, March 24, 2021, suspended use of the Pfizer vaccine, distributed by Chinese pharmaceutical firm Fosun Pharma, after defective packaging such as loose vial lids and cracks on bottles were found in one of two batches of the vaccine. (Paul Yeung/Pool Photo via AP, File) (AP)

  • Early findings didn’t rule out the possibility that packaging defects may have been because of environmental factors during long-haul transport
  • The government, BioNTech and Shanghai Fosun Pharmaceutical Group Co. aim to conclude the investigation within a week

Initial investigations by BioNTech SE and its regional distributor found no safety concerns with batches of vaccines sent to Hong Kong, after packaging defects prompted a halt in the use of the Covid-19 vaccine in the city.

Early findings didn’t rule out the possibility that packaging defects may have been because of environmental factors during long-haul transport, the Hong Kong government said in a statement, without specifying. The government, BioNTech and Shanghai Fosun Pharmaceutical Group Co. aim to conclude the investigation within a week, it said.

Hong Kong Suspends BioNTech on Loose Vial Caps, Stains

The city’s vaccination campaign suffered a setback this week when it and neighboring Macau temporarily suspended shots manufactured by BioNTech because of packaging defects. The suspension risks eroding public confidence in the inoculation, which had provided Hong Kong residents an alternative to the one made by Chinese firm Sinovac Biotech Ltd.

The defects, which included loose vial caps and stained bottles, affected about 1.3 million doses that were delivered to the financial hub. About 150,000 people had received BioNTech shots in Hong Kong prior to the halt.

Fosun and BioNTech have studied the entire supply chain, including the sealing process in BioNTech’s German facilities, vaccine packaging, transport to Hong Kong, logistical processing and storage after their arrival in the city, as well as inspections at community vaccination centers. They found no “obvious systematic factors" that could have led to the defects from packaging to usage, according to the statement.

The companies also said that they didn’t believe the defects were results of cold chain and logistic management issues. Random testing of remaining vaccine vials with intact packaging didn’t find evidence of leakage.

For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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