Coronavirus news round up: Hong Kong students will head back to school and WHO approves Sinopharm vaccine

  • Carrie Lam announced that all schools can have half-day in-person lessons beginning May 24
  • Canada and the US have approved the BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine for people as young as 12, while Britain and the European Union may soon follow
Susan Ramsay |

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Students head to school in Wan Chai in September 2020. The government has announced that all schools will resume on a half-day basis later this month. Photo: SCMP/ Nora Tam

Things are definitely looking up for students in Hong Kong, with the Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor telling the media yesterday that by May 24 all local schools would be able to have face-to-face classes. The arrangement will only be for half a day, though.

Lam said there had been no major outbreak of Covid-19 variants since the first cases were discovered in the local population last month.

Meanwhile, in Canada and the US, people as young as 12 will be able to get a Covid vaccine. US lawmakers signed off on the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, which is the same one available in Hong Kong. The company says there is no need to adjust their vaccines against the coronavirus variants.

A vaccine expert answers all your questions about the jab

Last Friday, the Sinopharm vaccine made on the mainland became the first non-Western jab to be approved by the World Health Organisation (WHO). It is not yet available in Hong Kong, but you can get it in Shenzhen. This means the Sinopharm vaccine can be included in Covax, the global programme that provides vaccines for poor countries. It will have to be taken in two doses. It joins the available arsenal of vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech, AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson and Moderna.

Could Keung To encourage more people to get the vaccine?

The WHO is not in favour of giving the vaccines to younger people while there are still millions of elderly people at risk in developing nations. “The priority really needs to be getting vaccines to all countries in the world for the highest priority groups before we start advancing to groups that have much lower risk of disease,” said Dr Kate O’Brien, director of the WHO’s vaccines and immunisation department.

However, it seems that both Britain and the European Union will authorise the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for teenagers.

Meanwhile, we’re still not sure the Tokyo Olympics will go ahead in less than three months’ time. But if they do, the Hong Kong government has stepped in to buy broadcast rights so that the Games will be seen in the city. You can catch the action on TVB, ViuTV and Hong Kong Open TV as well as paid channels, Hong Kong Cable Television and NowTV.

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