Pakistan to import fourth COVID-19 vaccine

Pakistan will purchase 1.2 million COVID-19 vaccine doses from China, making it the fourth drug to be cleared by the regulatory authority to tackle the deadly virus, which has claimed over 12,000 lives in the country. Chinese company Cansino Biologics Inc’s vaccine was approved by the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (Drap) on Friday.

Pakistan’s Cabinet approved USD 150 million to purchase Coronavirus vaccines. Pakistan’s regulators also approved AstraZeneca and Oxford University’s COVID-19 shot for emergency use. The shot will first be given to people who are over-65s and healthcare workers. Local governments and private firms were free to import the shot. “DRAP granted emergency use authorisation to AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine,” said the health minister, Faisal Sultan.

Approval has been given to get more than a million doses of Sinopharm’s vaccine from China, he said. “We are in the process to obtain Western origin and other vaccines both via bilateral purchase agreements as well as via the COVAX facility,” he said.

Efficacy is a key factor, said Sultan. “We have and are watching the evolving stories around the efficacy of a number of vaccines.” The analysis, which was released by the Independent Data Monitoring Committee (IDMC), showed that it had a 74.48% efficacy rate in preventing symptomatic cases and 100 per cent in preventing severe disease.

“The decision was taken considering the results of the trials. So far, four vaccines — Sinophram (China), Oxford-AstraZeneca (UK), Sputnik-V (Russia) and Cansino Bio (China) — have been registered. This will make it easy to arrange the vaccine for such a large population to create herd immunity,” he said.

“Our aim is that the bulk of the population will be covered free,” the minister said, adding that private sectors could also be allowed once supply was available to an authorized company. Sultan added that Pakistan had adequate cold chain facilities for most kinds of vaccines.

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