Home to 7.5 million residents, Hong Kong’s vaccine approval process differs from the one used in mainland China.

A booth of Shanghai Fosun Pharmaceutical Group Co Ltd is seen at a medical instruments and equipment expo in Beijing, China, August 17, 2018.
A booth of Shanghai Fosun Pharmaceutical Group Co Ltd is seen at a medical instruments and equipment expo in Beijing, China, August 17, 2018. (Reuters)

Hong Kong has formally approved use of the Fosun Pharma-BioNTech vaccine, according to the city, the first Covid-19 vaccine to be accepted in the Asian financial hub.

The first batch of around one million doses will arrive in the second half of February, the city said in a statement on Monday.

The move comes with Hong Kong lagging other developed cities in rolling out vaccines and after mainland China started its vaccine program in July last year.

Hong Kong has secured a total of 22.5 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine from Fosun Pharma-BioNTech, Sinovac Biotech and Oxford-AstraZeneca, the city's leader Carrie Lam said in December.

Fosun Pharma is German drug manufacturer BioNTech's partner in Greater China including in special administrative regions Hong Kong and Macau. Fosun is responsible for cold-chain management, storage and distribution.

Sinovac vaccine is likely to arrive in Hong Kong after BioNTech's vaccine in February, with AstraZeneca's vaccine due by the middle of the year.

READ MORE: AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine supplies to EU will be lower than expected

Vaccine approval process

Home to 7.5 million residents, Hong Kong has a separate approval process from the mainland for vaccines. The city has recorded nearly 10,000 coronavirus cases and 166 deaths since January 2020. Cases have spiked over the past week after an outbreak in an old residential building located in a busy commercial and residential area.

READ MORE: WHO: World to experience ‘moral catastrophe’ over vaccine hoarding

In China, a vaccination programme for emergency use started in July with products from domestic manufacturers Sinopharm and Sinovac Biotech.

READ MORE: What's behind varying efficacy data for Sinovac's Covid-19 vaccine?

The program was widened in December to focus on additional priority groups including employees in the cold-chain industry, transportation sector and fresh food markets.

China's state media outlets have run a series of articles criticising Western Covid-19 vaccines in the past week, including Pfizer's, while touting China-made vaccines as safer and more accessible.

READ MORE: All-natural Covid-19 vaccine made from honeycombs shows promising results

Source: Reuters