Hong Kong halts Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines, investigates defective packaging

HONG KONG — Hong Kong on Wednesday temporarily suspended coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccinations using two batches of the treatment developed by Pfizer and BioNTech citing defective packaging, but the government said manufacturers indicated they had no reason to believe safety was at risk, and the move was merely a preventative measure.

The government said it had received notice from Fosun Pharma Industrial (Hong Kong), the distributor of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine in the financial hub and in Macau, that packaging defects had been detected in a vaccine batch–numbered 210102–related to the closure of bottles.

“BioNTech and Fosun Pharma have not found any reason to believe that product safety is at risk,” the government said. It wasn’t immediately clear how many shots would be affected, but it said use of batch 210102 would be suspended, as would that of another batch, numbered 210104, until further notice.

Fosun Pharma didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

On Wednesday, several centers around the Asian financial hub were told by city authorities to stop using the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, according to notices seen by residents.

The city began vaccinating residents with doses from China’s Sinovac Biotech Ltd. in February, and began offering the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine in March.

Macau’s Department of Health said on Wednesday it was suspending production of the BioNTech vaccine in the neighboring special administrative region after discovering a packaging flaw. — Farah Master/Reuters

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