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Cablegate: Hong Kong Secures H1n1 Vaccine, but Concerns Over

VZCZCXRO1000
PP RUEHCN RUEHGH RUEHVC
DE RUEHHK #2051 3101038
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 061038Z NOV 09
FM AMCONSUL HONG KONG
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 8908
INFO RUEHOO/CHINA POSTS COLLECTIVE
RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 3673
RUEHPH/CDC ATLANTA GA
RUEAUSA/DEPT OF HHS WASHINGTON DC
RHMFIUU/DEPT OF HOMELAND SECURITY WASHINGTON DC

UNCLAS HONG KONG 002051

SIPDIS

STATE FOR EAP/CM, OES/IHB, MED, CA/OCS/ACS/EAP
HHS PASS TO OGHA, NIH/FIC
CDC ATLANTA PASS TO BLOUT, KELLY, COX
BEIJING FOR CDC, HHS HEALTH ATTACHE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: AMED CASC CH HK KFLU PREL SOCI TBIO
SUBJECT: HONG KONG SECURES H1N1 VACCINE, BUT CONCERNS OVER
CAPACITY TO INOCULATE

1. (U) SUMMARY: Hong Kong health officials announced on
November 5 that French manufacturer Sanofi Pasteur S.A. won
the tender to provide Hong Kong with three million doses of
H1N1 vaccine. The first 500,000 doses are scheduled to
arrive in mid-December and the remaining 2.5 million doses in
January 2010. Health officials expressed concern about the
capacity of Hong Kong's health care staff to inoculate over
two million people within a two-month period. END SUMMARY

2. (U) Hong Kong health officials announced the conclusion of
its H1N1 vaccine tender on November 5. French manufacturer
Sanofi Pasteur S.A. agreed to provide three million doses of
H1N1 vaccine at HK$79 (approximately US$10.26) per dose, for
a total price of HK$237 million or US$30.8 million.

3. (SBU) According to Dr. P.Y.Lam, Director of Health and Dr.
Thomas Tsang, Controller for the Center of Health Protection
(CHP), one of Hong Kong's main concerns during its vaccine
tender was timing of delivery. With the H1N1 vaccine shortage
in the U.S. and other parts of the world, health officials
felt confident that Sanofi would be able to deliver the doses
that Hong Kong required within the desired timeframe.

4. (U) Hong Kong officials expect to receive the first
500,000 doses in mid-December and the remaining 2.5 million
doses in January 2010. By the end of December, Hong Kong
plans to provide free vaccinations to five target high-risk
groups: health care workers, patients with chronic illness
and pregnant women, children between six months to six years
old; residents aged 65 and above, and pig farmers and
slaughterhouse workers. Children aged nine and under would
receive two doses, while everyone else one dose.

5. (SBU) Health officials stated that they planned to use
public clinics and hospitals for the inoculation program.
Health officials were also negotiating with private doctors
to help administer the free shots, but expressed concern
about the capacity of health care staff to inoculate over two
million people within a two-month period. They recalled a
previous mass inoculation effort in 1997 for measles and said
that the current effort would be "a nightmare." Additional
temporary staff would be added, they said. Individuals not
part of one of the target groups would be able to receive
vaccinations from private physicians for a fee. Hong Kong
plans to provide the vaccine to private physicians at cost
plus administrative fees.

6. (U) Health officials stated that Hong Kong was going to
administer the vaccine in time for the anticipated second
wave of H1N1 in February to March 2010. Despite the public's
concern about the timing of the vaccinations, health
officials believed that by vaccinating high-risk groups in
December, Hong Kong would be prepared if the second wave
started earlier in January. Health officials added that if
the wave struck even earlier, they would have to rely more
heavily on personal hygiene and social distancing measures
such as school closures.

7. (SBU) When asked about the Hong Kong health officials'
trip to a mainland Chinese vaccine manufacturer in
mid-September, Dr. Lam stated that although the Hong Kong
delegation was "suspicious" at first, the single facility
that they were shown was advanced and open to sharing
information about its manufacturing and testing processes. He
added that even if Hong Kong wanted the mainland vaccine,
they would not be able to obtain it given the overwhelming
demand for the vaccine in mainland China.
MARUT

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