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Hong Kong’s hesitant vaccination drive was dealt a fresh blow on Wednesday when officials temporarily halted BioNTech SE COVID-19 vaccinations. A fumbled communication effort, after months of mixing politics and public health, threatens to further undermine trust.

Much like Europe, grappling with the impact of AstraZeneca Plc vaccine suspensions, Hong Kong faces the prospect of having to overcome a sudden stoppage — this time triggered by stained vials and loose caps affecting what is now its most popular shot. An investigation will have to uncover the cause of the packaging trouble, and consequences, if any, for those already injected. BioNTech and Shanghai Fosun Pharmaceutical Group, which has the rights to market the vaccine in Greater China, say there is no reason to believe the product is unsafe. Officials say spoiled vials were jettisoned, and the pause is a precaution.

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