Hong Kong's Lam says 'forces' prevented elderly vaccination

[HONG KONG] Hong Kong's leader has deflected blame for the city's failure to get the elderly vaccinated against Covid.

"There are a lot of forces at work to prevent the government from doing what should be done," Carrie Lam said at a Friday briefing. "In this case, vaccinate our old people."

Hong Kong is experiencing one of the deadliest outbreaks of the entire pandemic, after being largely Covid-free for 2 years. Since January there have been about 6,500 fatalities, the vast majority being unvaccinated elderly. Even now, only 41 per cent of those aged 80 and above have received 2 vaccination doses, mostly of the Chinese-made Sinovac vaccine.

Lam said Hong Kong is a "very free society", and suggested that the media is hindering the government's efforts. "As recently as a few days ago, a local newspaper was still presenting a headline which were misleading which will immediately give the old people, their relatives, and the whole community the wrong message of getting Sinovac as to be vaccinated," Lam said. "I was very aggrieved and actually very angry."

Hong Kong distributed 2 vaccines, one from China's Sinovac Biotech that uses traditional methods and one from BioNTech built using a more potent mRNA technology.

Lam said the government's focus has always been on getting the elderly vaccinated.

"We can only say it's unfortunate for the whole of Hong Kong to miss the golden opportunity to get the old people vaccinated in time to prevent this tragic incident," Lam said. BLOOMBERG

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