- A Facebook post stated that 300,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine in stock will run out by mid-April. A picture is attached with the caption “If you want to get the jabs, get it as soon as possible” quoted from Mr. Nip Tak-kuen, the Secretary for the Civil Service.
- The quotation originates from the Facebook post published by Nip on Apr. 6, 2021, with the headline “Don’t wait any longer, get vaccinated promptly!” But the post has no such information that the Pfizer vaccine will run out in mid-April. Nip also told a press conference that approximately 7.5 million doses of Pfizer vaccine will be shipped to Hong Kong in batches, in the upcoming months. This information has been confirmed by the office of the Secretary for the Civil Service.
- It was also confirmed by the Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health and the office of the Secretary for the Civil Service that the supply of the Pfizer vaccine will continue with the operation of community vaccination centres (CVCs) until the end of September.
- The claim infers that the vaccine will run out in two weeks, based on the fact that a daily average of 22,290 people get the jabs after the resumption of the Pfizer vaccine on Apr. 5 and the arrival of the batch of 300,000 doses of the vaccine on Apr. 2. It also makes a causal linkage between the above inference and Nip’s appeal to the public, delivering misleading information that there will be no Pfizer vaccine available once the batch of 300,000 doses runs out. However, the government has purchased about 7.5 million doses of the vaccine and they will be shipped to Hong Kong in batches to maintain the stock’s availability, according to Nip.
- Therefore, we rate the claim as FALSE.
The Facebook page “Medical Inspire” published a post on Apr. 9, 2021, claiming that 300,000 doses of Pfizer vaccine will run out by mid-April and that it is of utmost importance to get vaccinated promptly if you want. At the time of the publication of this fact-check report, the post had been shared 36 times and had received 29 comments and 240 “mood response.”
A government gazette dated Apr. 1, 2021 announced that investigation results from the manufacturer shows that there is no evidence pointing to any safety risks for the previous batches of Pfizer vaccine with packaging defects of the vial caps, which will, notwithstanding, continue to be put on hold until completion of the final investigation report. A new batch of around 300,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine will arrive in Hong Kong on Apr. 2, and the government will resume its vaccination for the public on Apr. 5, the gazette announced.
HK01 also published an article, claiming that 22,290 people received the Pfizer jabs daily on average after the resumption of the vaccination drive, and it can be estimated that the stock will run out in less than two weeks. The article quoted Dr. Leung Chi-chiu, chairman of the Advisory Committee on Communicable Diseases of the Hong Kong Medical Association, and Mr. Chui Chun-ming, President of the Society of Hospital Pharmacists of Hong Kong, to ask, “How to promote vaccination if there is no vaccine available in stock?”, “Why the vaccine supply is not continual? This will make the public unwilling to get vaccinated.”
The claim questions: Is it true that the public have to get the vaccination promptly as 300,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine will run out in mid-April?
According to the background information above, it is accurate that the batch of 300,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine which landed in Hong Kong on Apr. 2 will run out in mid-April. Therefore, this report will focus on the causal linkage between the fact that 300,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine will run out in mid-April and Nip’s appeal to the public to get the jabs.
The Secretary for the Civil Service, Mr. Nip Tak-kuen, published a Facebook post on Apr. 6, 2021 with the headline “Don’t wait any longer, get vaccinated promptly!” He said in the post, “the supply period of Pfizer vaccine is limited, so you should consider getting vaccinated as soon as possible.” His post has no such information that the vaccine will run out in mid-April.
HKBU FactCheck Service called the CHP’s hotline for inquiry. CHP staff said, “The website of the government’s COVID-19 vaccination programme shows that the vaccination appointment for the Pfizer vaccine is available until May 2021. The time slots will be updated every day and citizens can book appointments for the upcoming two weeks. There are abundant slots available now and the supply of the Pfizer vaccine is sufficient.” The staff also added that the government’s recent extension of the priority vaccination group indicates the supply of the vaccine is still stable. We checked the website and confirmed that the appointment for the vaccine was available from Apr. 19 to May 7, 2021.
In addition, an article on news.gov.hk, published on Apr. 15 announced that the territory-wide CVCs are expected to operate until the end of September and people who wish to get the Pfizer jabs have to get the first dose by the end of August. In a press conference, Nip said, “On the planning for operating the CVCs until the end of September, the government has considered the BioNTech vaccine (aka Pfizer vaccine) supply, the vaccination rate and the jab’s storage limitations. We have purchased 7.5 million doses of the BioNTech vaccine and they will be delivered to Hong Kong in batches. There is a certain limit, for example, within three to four months, that you have to use the vaccines.”
According to another article on news.gov.hk, a batch of 300,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine was shipped to Hong Kong on Apr. 2, 2021. The claim infers that the stock will run out in two weeks, based on the daily average number of people vaccinated with the Pfizer jabs and the arrival of the batch of 300,000 doses on Apr. 2. However, another batch of 300,000 doses arrived in Hong Kong on Apr. 13, continuously maintaining the stock’s availability.
Nip also said he does not want to see any wastage of the Pfizer vaccine which is why he is urging the public to get vaccinated and make their booking as early as possible. It can be concluded that his appeal to the public to get the jabs is due to the fact that the Pfizer vaccine will expire in three to four months, as mentioned in the article.
The staff at the office of the Secretary for the Civil Service has confirmed that the government will request the manufacturer to deliver the next batch of the Pfizer vaccine after three to four months, considering its storage limitations. The supply will continue with the operation of CVCs until the end of September, the staff said.
According to the website of COVID-19 vaccination programme, appointments for the Pfizer vaccine are available until May 2021. The Secretary for the Civil Service, Mr. Nip Tak-kuen told a press conference that the government has purchased 7.5 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine which will be delivered to Hong Kong in batches, in the forthcoming months. The office of the Secretary for the Civil Service has also confirmed this information, adding that the supply of the vaccine will follow the operation of CVCs until the end of September.
The claim makes a causal linkage of two separate facts and delivers the misleading information that the Pfizer vaccine will no longer be available after the 300,000 doses run out. It also neglects the fact of the supply of 7.5 million doses of the vaccine already purchased by the government. Therefore, we rate the claim as FALSE.
- Facebook post, April 9, 2021
- Government gazette, April 1, 2021
- Mr. Nip Tak-kuen’s Facebook post, April 6, 2021
- HK01, “Comirnaty: an average of 22k people get the jabs every day; 300k doses will run out in mid-April; experts concern over supply shortage,” April 13, 2021
- Centre for Health Protection of Department of Health, Contact Us
- News.gov.hk, “Jab scheme to cover younger people,” April 15, 2021
- News.gov.hk, “300k Comirnaty jabs arrive,” April 2, 2021
- News.gov.hk, “More BioNTech jabs arrive,” April 13, 2021
- The Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, COVID-19 Vaccination Programme Website