8 March 2022
Hong Kong is facing an unprecedentedly challenging COVID-19 outbreak, with the number of confirmed cases reaching record high and increasing number of unvaccinated children and seniors passing away due to infection. To address the raging epidemic situation, CUHK Medical Centre (CUHKMC) and ADORE join hands with other parties to transform locally-invented electric minibuses into the next generation health truck, “ADORE VaxMobile” (“VaxMobile”), to provide safe and efficient vaccination services to the community, particularly the youths and the elderly.
To Fight the Virus with Technological Innovation
ADORE’s initial objective was to develop a new generation of electric 19-seat minibus to promote the popularisation of electric vehicles in Hong Kong. With funding support from the Innovation and Technology Commission (ITC), Mr. T. F. Lee, ADORE’s Principal Engineer, led the research team of Shui Cheong Motors to co-develop the city’s first Zero Emission Low Platform Electric Vehicle with Swappable Battery Function with the Automotive Platforms and Application Systems R&D Centre (APAS) of the Hong Kong Productivity Council (HKPC).
Just as the technology was about to be introduced to the market, Omicron variant started to wreak havoc in Hong Kong, leading to exponential growths of infection tally. Considering this, the team decided to transform the electric minibuses into “ADORE VaxMobile”, equipped with negative pressure rooms, for the city’s much-needed COVID-19 vaccination.
Founder of ADORE Ms. Kimmy Lai said: “We prioritize life and the people over company interests. We are saddened to see children and seniors passing away after contracting the disease. As the developer of two generations of health trucks in Hong Kong, we want to apply our technology and experience to support Hongkongers in the fight against the pandemic.”
CUHKMC was fully engaged in the revamp of “VaxMobile”, providing advice on the vehicle’s layout design, infection control measures and interior facilities, to ensure the vehicle meets the required medical standards. CUHKMC’s healthcare team also provided professional training to the healthcare staff of “VaxMobile” to help ensure the provision of safe and smooth vaccination service.
Dr. Hong FUNG, Chief Executive Officer, CUHKMC said: “CUHKMC is pleased to be part of this project and to contribute to Hong Kong’s anti-epidemic efforts. In light of the currently severe epidemic situation, with children and the elderly accounting for majority of deaths, it is very crucial to get vaccinated to reduce the risk of severe complications and death after infection.”
It took only two weeks to complete the re-design and market entry process for “VaxMobile”. That’s owing to not only the team’s efforts but also support from various sectors. Among them, Transport Department and other government bureaus have speedily arranged vehicle inspections for licensing, while Asia Insurance and Avo Insurance have offered one-stop risk management services to facilitate the process.
VaxMobile: Wheelchair-accessible, Electric, Mobile Vaccination Vechicles
"VaxMobile” stands out with three unique advantages:
- High mobility to carry out fast and efficient mobile outreach vaccination services at various locations across districts:
A special low-platform design makes it convenient for children, the elderly and persons with disabilities to get on and off of the vehicle. It is also wheelchair accessible. Many of the city’s schools, estates and the elderly care homes are limited in space, and therefore the upgraded 19-seat minibuses can easily enter crowded streets and care homes to offer services.
Ms. Kimmy Lai said: “All previous versions of mobile testing trucks are not wheelchair-friendly. ADORE has learned from our prior experience of operating mobile health trucks and came up with the new design. It comes with a goal to bringing more love and care to the elderly who rely on wheelchairs, especially those living in care home centres.”
- Medical-grade infection control design to guarantee vaccination safety:
Each “VaxMobile” comes with three negative pressure vaccination rooms. Each room is facilitated with independent monitoring system which will monitor the negative pressure, temperature and humidity to ensure the air flow control meets medical standards and prevent the risk of cross infection. The vehicle is also equipped with medical refrigerators for COVID-19 vaccine storage so as to avoid deterioration of vaccines and ensure the safety of inoculation.
- Zero-emission, pure electric vehicle technology:
This is the first time that pure electric vehicles are applied to mobile vaccination units in Hong Kong. “VaxMobile” vehicles have no pipeline emissions and thus will not bring harm to the neighborhood’s air quality even after long-time parking for vaccination.
Vaccination Outreach Services Targeting Schools and Senior Communities
“ADORE VaxMobile” was officially launched on March 4th. Its initial phase of operation will focus on offering outreach COVID-19 vaccination to primary and secondary schools, kindergartens, care homes for elderly and other places.
The team conducted the first outreach campaign at Tai Yuen Estate at Tai Po in the morning of 4 March. More than 380 residents, many of them being the elderly, received inoculation of BioNTech vaccines during the event. Secretary for the Civil Service Mr. Patrick Nip Tak-kuen also visited the vaccination site at Tai Yuen Estate on the day. Mr. Nip said: “The vaccination vehicles provided by ADORE are converted from electric minibuses and coaches, equipped with negative pressure rooms, HEPA filters, UV-lights for disinfection and up to 25 air changes per hour. Each vehicle is also protected with nano coating to kill germs. Such measures can prevent the risk of infection and protect the safety of the citizens, the medical workers and the staff.” Actress Ms. Susan Tse Suet-sum also showed her support for VaxMobile’s medical staff and the elderly citizens in the vaccination campaign.
As of 7 March, “ADORE VaxMobile” has offered inoculation services to more than 1,300 Hong Kong residents. Apart from reservation arrangements, the team also provide hundreds of same-day, walk-in quotas daily to meet the public’s demand for vaccination.
On 8 March, the “VaxMobile” team visited S.K.H. St. James' Primary School -- the first school participating in the outreach vaccination scheme -- to get more than 100 students and teachers vaccinated. It also took to the Sheng Kung Hui Kindergarten, Sheng Kung Hui St. James Church and St. James' Settlement on the same day to offer outreach vaccination.
So far, at least 21 primary schools or kindergartens have booked outreach vaccination services with “VaxMobile”.
The “VaxMobile” team looks forward to serving more residents in need of vaccine protection with the new technology and helping the Hong Kong public to end the COVID-19 situation in Hong Kong.
Source: CUHK Medical Centre