Fosun Pharma shares drop nearly 5% after Hong Kong suspended vaccinations for BioNTech Covid

Vaccination program branding on the clothing of a staff member outside a community vaccination center administering the BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine imported by Fosun Pharma on Wednesday March 17, 2021 in Hong Kong, China.

Chan Long Hei | Bloomberg via Getty Images

Shares in China’s Shanghai Fosun Pharmaceutical Group fell after Hong Kong and Macau announced on Wednesday that they would suspend vaccinations for BioNTech Covid.

Fosun Pharma, BioNTech’s partner in the development and distribution of the Comirnaty Covid-19 vaccine in Greater China, has informed the cities of a packaging error in batch 210102 of the vaccine.

Hong Kong and Macau said they would suspend vaccinations made in Germany as a precaution.

Hong Kong-listed Fosun Pharma shares fell 4.83% on Wednesday.

The cities said BioNTech and Fosun Pharma are investigating the cause of the vial cap failure, adding that there is currently no reason to doubt the vaccine’s safety.

Hong Kong authorities later attempted to reassure citizens in a press conference Wednesday after the initial announcements.

“The whole vaccination process is very strict,” said Sophia Chan, Hong Kong Secretary for Nutrition and Health. “We saw certain vial caps were loose, but those vials were thrown away so they weren’t injected into citizens.”

Macau says all of its messenger RNA or mRNA vaccines belong to the affected batch. Hong Kong said it would also temporarily suspend vaccinations from batch 210104 until the investigation is completed.

The Director of the Hong Kong Ministry of Health, Dr. Constance Chan said Fosun’s Hong Kong investigation will focus primarily on the logistics chain, including transportation, handling and delivery of the vaccines. She added that BioNTech will inspect its manufacturing facility in Germany.

Hong Kong approved the BioNTech emergency vaccine in January, while Macau gave the vaccine a special import permit in late February. Both areas received their first shots in late February.

BioNTech’s mRNA-based vaccine has a proven efficacy of 95% in adults, according to data from its global phase 3 clinical trial. Real-world data have shown that Pfizer-BioNTech’s two-dose Covid vaccine delivers “very strong” results after just one shot.

The news comes as countries around the world struggle to vaccinate their populations amid rising Covid cases in most regions.

So far, Hong Kong has approved vaccines from BioNTech and China’s Sinovac. As of Tuesday, the city announced that approximately 403,000 people had received an initial dose, of which 252,800 were Sinovac shots and 150,200 were BioNTech.

More than 124 million infections have been reported worldwide, and the death toll from Covid has exceeded 2.7 million, according to Johns Hopkins University.

– CNBC’s Christine Wang contributed to this report.

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