Macau could receive its first batch of a COVID-19 vaccine before the end of this year, according to Secretary for Social Affairs and Culture, Ao Ieong U.
The Secretary raised this topic when presenting the 2021 policy address for areas of Social and Cultural Affairs to the Legislative Assembly (AL) on Wednesday, revealing that the SAR government had reserved and purchased vaccines to cover frontline medical personnel by the end of this month. The government has also reserved 1.4 million vaccine doses for Macau residents.
“We believed that the 1.4 million doses of vaccine could arrive by the first half of 2021, and if things go well they could even arrive by the end of the first quarter of next year,” Ao Ieong said.
Since the situation in Macau is considered safe, the vaccination arrangement would be implemented in stages, the Secretary stated.
It is now more than four months since Macau was declared COVID free and more than eight months since the last positive case of community transmission. Including those in hotel quarantine, Macau has recorded just 46 cases in total since the start of the pandemic.
The Macau government originally revealed in September that that it had signed an agreement with the World Health Organization (WHO) to participate in its COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access Facility (Covax), guaranteeing the SAR would be able to buy a certain amount of COVID-19 vaccine when available. The 1.4 million doses is enough to cover the entire population of Macau two times over.
However, the government still has no immediate plans to let foreigners enter the city.
“Macau doesn’t have enough capacity to deal with a number of COVID-19 patients,” she said. “We must wait for the situation in foreign countries become low-risk areas in consideration of allowing foreigners to enter Macau.”