Coronavirus: HK cancer patient given wrong vaccine in mix-up over inoculation centres can have two BioNTech jabs

12-May-2021 Intellasia | South China Morning Post | 5:02 AM Print This Post

A blood cancer patient who received the Sinovac Covid-19 vaccine by mistake after going to the wrong inoculation centre in Hong Kong will now get two BioNTech jabs.

Hong Kong health authorities said they were making an exception in allowing the mixing of vaccines because of Scotsman David Allardice’s “unique circumstances”, but with conditions attached.

The 55-year-old retiree, who has been living in Hong Kong for more than 30 years, told the Post he was relieved to hear the news and hoped getting the vaccine of his choice would make it easier for him to return to Scotland to “touch the earth one more time”.

“That’s the one place I’m really desperate to get back to,” said Allardice, who is being treated for terminal leukaemia.

From the start, Allardice wanted the German-made BioNTech vaccine, but he went with a companion to the wrong centre in March and received China’s Sinovac jab instead.

They had booked to go to a vaccination centre in Kwun Tong which administers the BioNTech vaccine, but went to the Kowloon Bay Sports Centre where only Sinovac was available.

Allardice admitted making a mistake, but said staff at the centre did not carry out checks that would have revealed he was at the wrong venue and receiving a vaccine he did not want.

He filed two complaints last month about the operating procedures at the vaccination centre. On Monday, the authorities granted his request to have two BioNTech shots on top of the first dose of the China-made vaccine he had received.

“Having considered the unique circumstances of Allardice’s encounter, the government is prepared to provide him… with two doses of the BioNTech vaccine, outside the government vaccination programme with specified conditions,” the Food and Health Bureau said in a reply to the Post, without revealing those conditions.

Allardice said he had been told the authorities would let him have the BioNTech vaccine once his doctor said he was suitable for it, and on the condition his doctor administered the shots.

He must also sign a waiver of liability, given that mixed-doses of Covid-19 vaccine are not allowed in Hong Kong’s mass inoculation drive which began in late February.

Only the BioNTech and Sinovac shots are currently available in the city and both require two jabs.

The bureau said: “It is strongly advised that individuals complete the vaccination series within the same vaccine, as there is no data on the interchangeability of Covid-19 vaccines.”

Despite the uncertainty over mixing vaccines, Allardice said that given his condition, he preferred the BioNTech vaccine for its higher efficacy rate and would be happy to sign the waiver of liability.

He has been undergoing cancer treatment since June 2019 and his doctor has told him he has 18 to 24 months to live.

“I really don’t know how long chemotherapy will work. For me to live comfortably, I need protection,” he said.

According to the Hong Kong Cancer Therapy Society guidelines, the immune response triggered by a Covid-19 vaccine is expected to be reduced in cancer patients receiving chemotherapy.

After Allardice’s case emerged, the authorities admitted that a total of 24 residents had received a different Covid-19 vaccine than the one they booked.

A government spokesman said some people went to a vaccination centre they had not chosen after changing their minds about the jab they wanted, while others, like Allardice and his companion, went to the wrong venue by mistake.

Following the incidents, officials reviewed procedures at vaccination centres and implemented new measures, including assigning a unique site number differentiating the two vaccines with the labels “S” and “B”.

In another blunder, a 32-year-old man received three doses of vaccine.

Officials also revealed that nine non-residents not eligible for the vaccination drive, had received their first dose of the Sinovac jab at private clinics.

The health authorities said they would tell the doctors at those clinics to provide the nine individuals with their second dose.


Category: Hong Kong

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