The first batch of 100,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines arrived in Macau on Saturday, with vaccinations scheduled to begin from this Tuesday 9 February.
The Sinopharm phase-three clinical trial vaccines were produced by the China National Pharmaceutical Group, departing from Beijing on 4 February and arriving in Macau two days later. Each person is required to receive two shots of the vaccine in order to generate the necessary antibodies, meaning 50,000 residents will be among the first group in Macau to receive their COVID-19 vaccine.
According to official figures, the efficacy rate of the vaccines is around 80% and the incidence of systemic side effects low among those who have so far received shots. Those symptoms that have been observed have been minor, such as fever with no incidence of any serious neurological issues or death.
Macau’s Health Bureau noted the Sinopharm vaccine had been approved for commercial use by China’s National Medical Products Administration and has already been introduced and used in a number of countries including Turkey, Indonesia and Brazil.
Macau has sourced three types of COVID-19 vaccine, with the Sinopharm vaccine to be followed by the “mRNA-based“ vaccine by BioNTech and its partner in China, Fosun Pharma; then the “replication-defective adenovirus vector vaccine” developed by AstraZeneca.
The three vaccines have all been granted either authorization for use in a public health emergency, or conditional authorization for marketing purposes, in a number of countries.
Safety and efficacy were the key principles for Macau’s Health Bureau when considering importation of vaccines, it said.
Front line health workers will start to receive Macau’s first vaccine from 9 February, while other high exposure occupations will receive the vaccine after the Chinese New Year holiday. Customer-facing gaming employees are said to be among those near the front of the queue.
The arrival of the first batch of vaccines comes as Macau reported its 48th case of COVID-19. A 30-year-old asymptomatic man departed from Portugal and arrived in Macau on 21 January via Amsterdam and Tokyo. The patient was still serving his 21-day quarantine at Grand Coloane Resort when he returned his positive test result on 3 February, at which time he was sent to hospital for treatment.