Hong Kong to dump 2.8 mn doses of swine flu vaccine

Last Updated: Thu, Jun 10, 2010 05:30 hrs

Around 2.8 million doses of unwanted swine flu vaccine worth $28.2 million are to be thrown away, officials said here Thursday.

The vaccines are part of a batch of three million ordered at the height of the pandemic when it was feared the H1N1 virus was a serious threat and could mutate into a more deadly form.

It was offered free to health professionals, pregnant women, babies, the elderly and those at risk because of illness, but was shunned because of safety concerns after two people had seizures and two women gave birth to stillborn babies after having the vaccine.

Despite government reassurances of its safety, less than 200,000 doses were administered.

A health department spokesman said the vaccine would be discarded when they reached their expiry date in October.

He added that people would be offered a new three-in-one jab in the autumn, providing protection from swine flu and two other strains of seasonal flu.

The densely-populated former British colony is particularly sensitive to virus outbreaks after the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) killed 299 people and infected around 1,800 in 2003.