First Participants Vaccinated In HKU Trial To Test COVID-19 Vaccines In Healthy Adolescents

Press Release



Investigators of the Department of Paediatrics and Adolescent Medicine and the School of Public Health, LKS Faculty of Medicine, The University of Hong Kong, are now launching the COVID-19 Vaccination in Adolescents (COVA) study. 300 healthy adolescents aged 11 years or above and their parents will be offered one of the COVID-19 vaccines available in Hong Kong of their choosing. The reactogenicity and immunogenicity profile of the vaccines will be compared. The first participants have just received dose 1 of their Fosun Pharma/BioNTech BNT162b2 vaccine.


The COVID-19 pandemic has caused more than 100 million cases and 3 million deaths globally, and over 10,000 cases in Hong Kong. The virus may cause long COVID and multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children. Some emerging virus variants have also been found to be more infectious to teenagers. Children and adolescents under 20 years old are contagious, and infected children may spread the virus to their grandparents. The prolonged suspension of classes and social distancing have also had a negative impact on students. Therefore, children and adolescents urgently need to be immunized against COVID-19.


COVA will recruit 300 healthy adolescents aged 11 years or above and their parents. At the moment, the families will be offered to receive the BioNTech/Fosun BNT162b2 or SinoVac's CoronaVac. Each family can freely choose the vaccine they receive, given each family member receives the same vaccine. Participants will report adverse reactions and other adverse events following immunization, and be followed up for immunogenicity assessments and vaccine breakthrough COVID-19 over a period of 3 years. Participants are covered by the Hong Kong government’s COVID-19 vaccine indemnity fund. Recruitment is ongoing, and those interested may sign up at https://paed.hku.hk/registration/cova/ or call or WhatsApp the Department of Paediatrics and Adolescent Medicine at 5944 5961 for more details.


Timely local data on the reactogenicity and immunogenicity of COVID-19 vaccines in adolescents will inform the public and the government whether the vaccines should be given to adolescents, and allow complete school reopening as soon as possible.


About the research team

The COVA investigators include Professor Yu-Lung Lau, Doris Zimmern Professor in Community Child Health, Chair Professor of Paediatrics, Department of Paediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, HKUMed, Professor Malik Peiris, Tam Wah Ching Professor in Medical Science, Chair Professor of Virology, Centre for Immunology & Infection, Institut Pasteur and School of Public Health, HKUMed, Professor Wing-hang Leung, Head of Department and Clinical Professor, Department of Paediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, HKUMed, Professor Wenwei Tu, Antony and Nina Chan Professor in Paediatric Immunology and Professor, Department of Paediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, HKUMed, Professor Roberto Bruzzone, Visiting Professor, School of Public Health, Centre for Immunology & Infection, HKUMed, Professor Leo Poon, Professor, School of Public Health, HKUMed; also from the Department of Paediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, HKUMed: Dr Patrick Ip, Clinical Associate Professor, Dr Pamela Lee Pui-Wah, Clinical Associate Professor, Dr Jaime Rosa Duque, Clinical Assistant Professor, Dr Gilbert T Chua, Clinical Assistant Professor, Dr Wilfred Hing-sang Wong, Senior IT Manager, Ms Sau Man Chan, Research Nurse, Dr Kai N Cheong, Honorary Clinical Assistant Professor, and Mr Daniel Leung, MBBS/PhD student.


About the Department of Paediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, HKU

The Department of Paediatrics and Adolescent Medicine is a pre-eminent international paediatrics department in Asia striving for the health and well-being of children and youth. We endeavour to provide high-quality children-centred health care services to the community; produce graduates, postgraduates and paediatricians of distinction, committed to lifelong learning, integrity and professionalism; engage in both basic and clinical research of innovation and high-impact, within and across disciplines; and form alliances and partnerships in order to achieve our vision and mission.


About the Centre for Immunology & Infection (C2i)

The C2i is the fruit of a long-standing partnership of more than 20 years between the LKS Faculty of Medicine of the University of Hong Kong (HKUMed) and the Institut Pasteur, two major institutions combining their expertise to establish this centre of excellence. C2i, adopts innovative strategies to identify and contain emerging infectious diseases and transform Hong Kong and the Greater Bay Area into a global hub of knowledge and research.


The Centre for Immunology & Infection's work is centered around four major research programs to face public health challenges and make Hong Kong a global center of excellence for precision medicine population strategies and innovative interventions targeting emerging infectious diseases. They aim to characterise immune responses to infectious agents and their components in a healthy Asian population and develop new vaccine platforms for influenza, new strategies for mosquito-borne viruses and new treatments for lethal respiratory virus infections. The C2i is led by Professor Malik Peiris (Managing Director) and Professor Roberto Bruzzone (Co-director).


The study is funded by the Food and Health Bureau and private donations.


Media enquiries

Department of Paediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, HKU

Daniel Leung (Tel: 2255 4538 | Email: dan.leung@hku.hk)


Download the Press Release (English).

Download the Press Release (Chinese)




Photo of COVA study team in the community vaccination centre on May 8 2021. The COVA study is supported by experienced paediatricians, nursing staff, clinical research assistants and medical students at the vaccination centre.



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