For the first time since its mass-vaccination campaign kicked off three months ago, Hong Kong's vaccination indemnity fund has paid out a total of HK$450,000 ($58,000) as compensation for patients who suffered particularly severe reactions to inoculation against COVID.
Out of more than 3MM doses of vaccines that have been administered in the city-state since February, HK's Food and Health Bureau said it had received 74 applications for compensation as of June 10, 58 of which were still being processed. As of Sunday, 3,605 people had reported an adverse reaction to their jabs, roughly 0.12% of all vaccination recipients. Only 1.2MM, or 16.3% of the city's population, has been fully vaccinated.
Awards were given to patients whose reactions were deemed especially severe.
"The principles of severity assessment include fairness to applicants, prudent use of public funding, transparency to the public, and based on medical science," the bureau said in a statement. "Severity of individual cases is subject to case-by-case assessment according to their circumstances."
The compensation figures were revealed while authorities also confirmed a new imported case from Sri Lanka, which brought the city’s official tally to 11,881, with 210 related deaths. So far 21 deaths have been recorded involving people who received a jab two weeks before dying, although no connection has been made between he vaccination and the deaths, according to the state authorities.
Between May 17 and Sunday, Hong Kong's public hospitals reported 2.8 deaths for every 100K vaccinated adults. That's compared with 58.1 in 100K among the rest who were not.
One of the patients who received a payout from the HK$1 billion ($129MM) fund suffered an allergic reaction that nearly killed them, according to the SCMP.
Of the three claims of vaccine-related deaths, two have already been processed while one was rejected because of a lack of an official vaccination record.
Family members of fatal cases could receive up to HK$2.5MM if a patient is below the age of 40, or a maximum of HK$2MM for patients aged 40 or older.
To be eligible for a payout, a registered doctor must certify all serious adverse events. Another condition is the expert committee monitoring side effects of vaccines cannot rule out that the event is not related to the jab.
Tim Pang Hung-cheong, a patients' rights campaigner from the Society for Community Organisation, also supported the payout, but said the amount should have been higher to reflect the loss of income and work ability caused by the side effects. He also said the government should publish in detail the reasons for approving or rejecting each claim, to give confidence to those thinking of getting a jab.