Hong Kong to Widen Booster Access to All Adults From Jan. 1
(Bloomberg) -- Hong Kong will start giving out Covid-19 booster shots to all adults from Jan. 1 following studies around the world that two doses of any vaccine are inadequate to fight the more infectious omicron variant.
All adults are entitled to receive a third shot six months after their second dose, according to a government statement Friday. Certain groups such as those with travel needs can get a third shot at least three months after their second.
Previously, only those in high-risk groups or who had taken the less-effective Sinovac Biotech Ltd. shot were eligible for boosters.
The widened drive comes as the city fights to keep out the omicron variant, which has been detected in a growing number of travelers in recent weeks. Hong Kong is one of the only places in the world to have thus far avoided a delta outbreak, and there’s been no local virus spread of any variant since early June.
But this has also translated into less urgency among the population to get inoculated, leaving the city with a weak immunity shield if the virus slips in. And of the 62% of the population that has received two doses, a third opted for Sinovac’s shot, which studies show does not protect against omicron even after a third dose.
Hong Kong’s move follows a raft of other places racing to dole out booster shots. Initial research shows that the new strain spreads up to 70 times faster than previous ones, though early data indicates a lower risk of hospitalization. Still, the evidence of less severe disease is emerging from places with more widespread vaccination than Hong Kong.
The government will also start on Jan. 1 disseminating second BioNTech SE shots for people aged 12-17 who had previously received only one dose due to concerns over the side effect of myocarditis.
Hong Kong has detected a suspected omicron case in an airport cleaner, the government said late Thursday, marking the first time the more infectious variant has jumped through the city’s fortress-like border controls and infected a person living in the community who hasn’t recently traveled. Testing of his close contacts and neighbors has so far not unearthed any other positives.
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