A man who was found unconscious on a hiking trail in Sai Kung on Thursday morning had received the BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine the week before.
Authorities said that the 59-year-old received the jab at a community center in Choi Hung on March 18, and that there is no record of him feeling unwell after the vaccination.
He was pronounced dead at Pamela Youde Nethersole Eastern Hospital, where he was airlifted to after hikers along Section 2 of the Maclehose Trail found him unresponsive and called for help.
The man had no chronic illness or surgical records, and was also a regular hiker, according to HK01. At around 9am Thursday, he sent a selfie to his wife and told her that he was hiking towards East Dam in High Island Reservoir from Sai Wan Village.
A causality assessment will be conducted to evaluate potential linkage between the man’s death and the vaccination.
Including the man, eleven people in Hong Kong have died after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine. Nine involved the mainland China-made Sinovac, while the other two involved the BioNTech jab. So far, none of the fatalities have been directly linked to the vaccine.
Hong Kong’s efforts to vaccinate the population against COVID-19 has been rocky since the inoculation drive began in February, plagued by hesitancy rooted in mistrust of the government.
On Wednesday, the city abruptly suspended the use of the BioNTech vaccine due to defective packaging in one of the batches. Health authorities reassured the public that the move was done out of precaution and that the issue does not pose safety risks.
Local experts pointed out that other countries, such as Britain and the United States, have not suspended vaccinations despite similar cases involving packaging faults, according to the South China Morning Post.