Fosun, BioNTech Find No Vaccine Safety Issues in Probe
Fosun International Ltd. branding is displayed in an exhibition area during a news conference in Hong Kong, China. (Photographer: Paul Yeung/Bloomberg)

Fosun, BioNTech Find No Vaccine Safety Issues in Probe

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.

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 a small number of bottles, according to Hong Kong officials. About 1.3 million doses have been delivered to the financial hub, and around 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.

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