We lost chance for swine flu jabs thanks to officials' intransigence

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 27 August, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 27 August, 2009, 12:00am

I was very unhappy to learn that Hong Kong has lost its chance for an autumn supply of swine flu vaccinations ('Vaccine tender 'too difficult' ', August 22).

I have several family members at risk of complications from this flu and we have been following the development and timeline of this vaccine closely. It seems that Hong Kong is too demanding for its suppliers.

It might be an appropriate time to remind everyone that beggars can't be choosers.

We do not have a local manufacturer of these vaccines so we need to look to other countries and hope that they will sell their stock to us.

I was dismayed to learn that the government might consider buying from mainland manufacturers now.

There is no way my family is going to take a new, fairly untested drug manufactured on the mainland, given the quality-control problems that have been experienced there. Take, for example, melamine in baby formula and citizens being poisoned with lead from smelting plants.

Also, I was most unhappy to hear that one of the restrictions Hong Kong had put on any potential supplier was that it would take back unused vaccines. If, at the end of the day, we have extra vaccines, shouldn't we give them away to a developing country that needs them? After all, this is an issue of humanity more than a financial decision. But, then again, Hong Kong has always found it hard to put humanity before profits.

Why am I surprised that the idea of donating the extra vaccines to another country has not even been thought of by our government?

Instead, the administration has adopted strong-arm tactics to try to get the suppliers to bend to its wishes. And now we're surprised that they have left the bargaining table and are selling to other countries.

As it stands, we are going to be the equivalent of a 'developing' country this autumn hoping for vaccine donations from 'world-class' countries because we will have no supply of our own. You can't have your cake and eat it.

Vivian Chow, Sha Tin