Transparency has been the hallmark of Hong Kong’s battle against the Covid-19 epidemic. From infections to vaccination uptake, the daily updates by the government have won public recognition.
The commitment in keeping people informed of the latest developments is not only pivotal to protecting health, but also enhances confidence and cooperation in the city’s antivirus strategy.
It therefore seemed odd when the authorities earlier decided that individual deaths following vaccination would only be publicly announced when “potential association” was found, with a monitoring report on vaccine safety to be published each month.
Admittedly, the previous practice of reporting fatalities among those who had received their jabs may have undermined the confidence of citizens in the vaccination process. It may also be argued that it is misleading to report such deaths when causal relationships are yet to be established.
However, this has failed to deter many people as reflected in the 2.5 million doses administered since February. Those who remain wary of serious side effects will not change their minds and come forward for jabs simply because they no longer hear about deaths via the media.
In any case, the city’s vibrant news and social media landscape means it will not take long for people to learn of such incidents one way or the other.
It may cause even further misunderstanding and distrust if details of cases only come to light eventually, regardless of whether they are linked to vaccinations.
As rightly championed by some medical experts, any doubts over the negative effects of inoculations are to be overcome by the release of more comprehensive information and scientific analysis. This includes providing full details of deaths and other serious medical conditions involving those who have not been vaccinated for comparison.
This can dispel misunderstanding and help people make more informed choices.