Hong Kongers fully vaccinated against Covid-19 top 2 million, aided by giveaways

Hong Kong has one of the world's lowest case counts, at 11,958, amid stringent restrictions to keep the virus from spreading.
Hong Kong has one of the world's lowest case counts, at 11,958, amid stringent restrictions to keep the virus from spreading.PHOTO: AFP

HONG KONG (BLOOMBERG) - The number of Hong Kong residents that are fully vaccinated against Covid-19 topped two million on Sunday (July 18), doubling in just seven weeks as giveaways helped stoke initially slow demand.

Of the 2.8 million people who have received at least one shot, 2.01 million have gotten two, according to a Hong Kong government statement. Vaccines from BioNTech and Sinovac Biotech are available in the city.

It took three months to fully inoculate the first million people in Hong Kong. Uptake has been slower than in places such as Singapore in part because Hong Kong has one of the world's lowest case counts, at 11,958, amid stringent restrictions to keep the virus from spreading.

As at Saturday, 26 per cent of the city's population was fully vaccinated, according to Bloomberg's Covid-19 Vaccine Tracker, versus 46 per cent in Singapore.

Some Hong Kong residents initially avoided vaccination due to mistrust of the city's government, with the rate as at late May prompting officials to ponder potential donation of supplies before they expire.

Around that time, Chief Executive Carrie Lam rejected a call for government cash handouts or other in-kind incentives to quicken the pace of people getting shots. The private sector stepped in, offering so-called "lucky draw" prizes ranging from a US$1.4 million (S$1.9 million) apartment to a Tesla or gold bars. Vaccination sign-ups surged in response.

Hong Kong's secretary for the Civil Service Patrick Nip said during a radio interview on Sunday that the city may reach its target of a 70 per cent vaccination rate by the end of September based on current trends.