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Hearing arrangements to be reviewed

Chief Justice Andrew Cheung has instructed that the Judiciary should immediately review the overall arrangements of handling cases involving a large number of litigants and observers at all levels of courts.   The Judiciary made the statement today in response to enquiries on the arrangements for the hearing of a case involving 47 defendants at the West Kowloon Magistrates' Courts, emphasising that the review is subject to the safeguarding of the due administration of justice.        The statement pointed out that the courts must adjudicate cases in accordance with the law and court procedures, adding that the courts have always sought to complete the hearing of each case as soon as practicable to ensure efficient administration of justice.   Regarding the case in question, the Judiciary explained that all 47 defendants must be heard before the same magistrate according to court procedures as they were charged with the same offence under the same case.   The case was first

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Vaccine use paper published

The Scientific Committee on Vaccine Preventable Diseases and the Scientific Committee on Emerging & Zoonotic Diseases under the Centre for Health Protection today published the consensus recommendations on the use of BNT162b2 COVID-19 vaccine by Fosun Pharma/BioNTech among the frail elderly in Hong Kong.   The Advisory Panel on COVID-19 Vaccines issued a report last month, advising the Secretary for Food & Health that under the current pandemic situation, the benefits of using BNT162b2 in Hong Kong for people aged 16 or above for active immunisation to prevent COVID-19 outweigh its risk.   Noting that reports of death cases among very frail people following the use of BNT162b2 in some European countries, the advisory panel suggested to collect more information for the Joint Scientific Committee on Emerging & Zoonotic Disease and Scientific Committee on Vaccine Preventable Diseases together with the Expert Advisory Panel to the Chief Executive (JSC-EAP) for examination.   The Department of Health had obtained information from various sources, including overseas health and drug regulatory authorities as well as media reports, for the JSC-EAP to review.   Based on the available information and recommendations from overseas jurisdictions and the World Health Organization as of January, the JSC-EAP considered that there is currently no evidence suggestive of any unexpected or untoward increase in mortality in frail elderly following the use of BNT162b2.   There is also no clear evidence suggesting the reported deaths were due to the use of that vaccine.   Adverse events following immunisation is defined as any untoward medical occurrence which follows immunisation and it does not necessarily have a causal relationship with the use of the vaccine.   For the very frail elderly, any mild adverse event from pharmaceutical products including vaccines might worsen their original disease or condition.   For elderly people with severe frailty, especially those at the most extreme age groups such as those above 85 years old, the benefits and risks of receiving BNT162b2 should be evaluated separately by attending clinicians and such clinical assessment should be exercised with greater caution.   As stated in the consensus interim recommendation published last month, any individual who is experiencing acute febrile diseases should delay their vaccination and this recommendation applies to the use of BNT162b2 among frail elderly.   Additionally, the JSC-EAP considered that reports and data about the safety and efficacy of BNT162b2 should be closely monitored.   The benefit-risk balance should also be evaluated again when more information on rare adverse events and long-term side effects from mass vaccination programmes continue to emerge.   Click here for the consensus document.
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