A spokesman for the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) government said on Thursday that COVID-19 vaccines used in Hong Kong must satisfy the relevant requirements and procedures, and obtain emergency use approval in accordance with the Prevention and Control of Disease (Use of Vaccines) Regulation, with a view to ensuring the safety, efficacy and quality of the vaccines.
The HKSAR government made the statement after noticing the various views voiced by different people on the effectiveness and administration of COVID-19 vaccines.
According to the Prevention and Control of Disease (Use of Vaccines) Regulation, the HKSAR government's Secretary for Food and Health may, under the state of public health emergency, authorize the use of COVID-19 vaccines which fulfil the criteria of safety, efficacy and quality for the purpose of vaccination programs conducted by the HKSAR government.
The regulation also specifies the conditions and procedures which the vaccine manufacturer or its representative, importer, or wholesale dealer must follow when submitting application for seeking authorization for emergency use. In particular, the applicant must submit Phase 3 clinical data of the vaccine concerned, overseas authorization obtained, and other information relevant to the safety, efficacy and quality of the vaccine.
The Advisory Panel appointed by the Chief Executive under the regulation will examine the information of relevant vaccine and provide a clear recommendation to the HKSAR government. The Secretary for Food and Health will consider the advice of the Advisory Panel before authorizing a vaccine for emergency use.
The HKSAR government will strive for the early supply of vaccines to Hong Kong. It will also ensure that the vaccines concerned satisfy the requirements of safety, efficacy and quality, and obtain emergency use approval in accordance with the relevant requirements and procedures of the regulation, before providing vaccination for members of the public, the spokesman said.
The Department of Health of the HKSAR government is actively following up with vaccine manufacturers which have reached procurement agreements with the HKSAR government, with a view to obtaining the relevant data for assessment and approval as soon as possible, the spokesman said.
To enhance the public's confidence in vaccines, the HKSAR government's work in vaccine administration will be based on scientific evidence and adhere to the principles of openness and transparency, the spokesman said.
The HKSAR government will provide members of the public with the latest information on relevant vaccines through different channels in a timely manner, and reveal experts' views on the vaccines, so that the public can obtain correct and comprehensive information, the spokesman said.
Before formal data and experts' views on individual vaccine are available, the HKSAR government urged the public to carefully ascertain online information on the vaccines and not to believe in unverified rumours.
HKSAR Chief Executive Carrie Lam had said earlier that Hong Kong has established a legal framework for the urgent use of vaccines and set up an expert advisory committee under the legal framework to start the accreditation of the three vaccines that Hong Kong has procured. One of the vaccines will arrive in Hong Kong around January, the other may arrive in the first quarter, and the third will arrive during the second half of the year.