Private companies in Hong Kong are giving away high-end rewards ranging from a lucky draw for a $1.4m condominium, a tesla car to a gold bar, to coax residents into getting the coronavirus shot.
The inoculation drive in the semi-autonomous region has been slower than expected due to factors such as fears of serious side effects and mistrust in the government. As a result, despite available vaccination centres at a slew of community health facilities, only 16 per cent of its 7.5 million people have been fully vaccinated since the drive began in February this year.
However, since the announcement of the incentives at the end of May, there has been a surge in bookings, with nearly 600,000 of the total of three million shots given just in the last two weeks.
Experts say the sudden interest in getting vaccinated could also be due to fears of contracting the more contagious Delta variant spreading across the border in the mainland city of Guangzhou.
“In the last week or two there has been a bump in the levels of interest in getting vaccination in people who have not yet received the vaccination,” Ben Cowling, an infectious disease epidemiologist at the University of Hong Kong (HKU), was quoted as saying by the Time magazine. “Some of that could be due to the latest incentives.”
Hong Kong, which so far had fewer than 12,000 coronavirus cases, broke its 42 days streak of zero untraceable infections on 5 June, after a 17-year-old girl tested positive for the Alpha variant, first identified in the UK.
Additionally, the vaccination drive in the region lags behind other countries such as Singapore that has completely inoculated about a third of its total population.
Additional reporting from the wires
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