Local expert thinks local COVID-19 cases will spike if Omicron BA.5 becomes mainstream virus train, other age groups may be required to receive 4th vaccination dose in future

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7th August 2022 – (Hong Kong) The COVID-19 epidemic in Hong Kong continues, and the daily number of confirmed cases remains in the thousands. David Hui, an expert advisor to the government and a chair professor of the Department of Respiratory Medicine at CUHK, pointed out in an interview with a TV program that the trend of the epidemic in Hong Kong depends on whether the Omicron variant strain BA.5 will become a mainstream virus strain. As for whether citizens will be required to receive a new generation of vaccines against Omicron, Hui believes that the first generation vaccines are still effective. Taking Singapore as an example, Hui pointed out that after BA.5 became the mainstream virus strain in the city, there were more than 3,000 to 10,000 cases in recent months, and BA.5 accounted for 35% of them.

Therefore, if BA.5 becomes the mainstream in Hong Kong, more people will be infected, but Hui believes that since most of the citizens have already received vaccinations, the serious cases should not increase. At present, eligible people aged 50 or above can receive the fourth dose of the vaccine. Hui pointed out that it is not ruled out that people in other age groups will need to receive the fourth dose in the future.

In addition, whether a new generation of vaccines is needed, Hui still needs to review more data. Hui pointed out that the virus may mutate again, and the T-cell function of the first-generation vaccine is still very effective. As long as three or four doses of the first-generation vaccine are administered, the first-generation vaccine can still effectively reduce the risk of severe illness, hospitalisation and deaths. He explained that when the original variant virus strain BA.1 appeared, the pharmaceutical company immediately developed a second-generation vaccine against BA.1. However, BA.1 was quickly replaced by other mutant virus strains, and the antibodies after vaccination against BA.1 were difficult to fight against BA.4 and BA.5, so he did not recommend receiving vaccines made against BA.1.

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