Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor reiterated that the government will implement the next stage of the city’s vaccine pass requirements to boost vaccination rates. All Hong Kong residents must get a third dose of a Covid-19 vaccination by May 31, unless exempted, in order to enter establishments such as restaurants, cinemas, gyms and other premises in the city covered by the vaccine pass.
Lam made these remarks in response to an op-ed by University of Hong Kong professors Ben Cowling and Theo Chan. The professors, who are experts in epidemiology and pharmacology respectively, say that vaccine pass requirements should be lifted for Hong Kong residents between 18 and 60 years old and that vaccination efforts should focus on the elderly.
Speaking at a weekly press briefing on May 17, Lam said, “Vaccination remains the most effective way to prevent serious illnesses arising from Covid-19 infection. If we could keep this situation, we will not be overburdening Hong Kong public hospitals, and that has always been one of the primary objectives of our anti-epidemic work in Hong Kong.”
The CE added that the government has given the public adequate time to get valid vaccine passes. “We are not suddenly requiring Hong Kong people to take the third dose before they could enter restaurants, gyms or other venues. We have been telling people and announcing well in advance the three-dose requirement under the vaccine pass. I can confirm and reaffirm here that that remains our plan,” she said.
In the op-ed, Cowling and Chan say, “In Hong Kong, we already have a high coverage of two vaccine doses in young adults (over 90% for second doses) and many people infected in our fifth wave already benefit from post-infection immunity. While we recommend all eligible Hong Kong citizens—especially older adults—to receive three or four doses of vaccines as appropriate, we do not think there is any strong justification to mandate additional doses in young adults to push uptake beyond the level of uptake that could be achieved without coercion.”
Experts are also divided over when there will be a sixth wave of the Covid-19 epidemic in Hong Kong. Earlier this week, Gabriel Leung, the Dean of Medicine at the University of Hong Kong, said that a fresh surge of infections was imminent, given that daily case count continues to hover at around the 300 mark. However, respiratory medicine specialist Leung Chi-chiu said that another wave of infections is unlikely within the next two months if no new variant of the virus emerges.
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