Pakistan grants permission to use British COVID-19 vaccine for ‘urgent-use’, sources

Pakistan has reportedly granted permission to use Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine (AZD1222) in an emergency situation.

Pakistan has granted permission to use Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine (AZD1222) in emergency situations, claim informed sources.  The Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP) has given the approval for urgent-use of the British COVID-19 vaccine.

It is important note that the government has not announced any date as yet. “Our target is to procure the vaccine in the first quarter of the current year, and we are confident of doing so. But it is quite difficult to say on which date we will acquire the vaccine,” Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Health Dr Faisal Sultan told daily Dawn on Friday.

According to the National Command and Operation Centre’s (NCOC) update released on Friday, Pakistan’s current positivity ratio stands at 5.99 per cent.

The highest positivity ratio was observed in Karachi at 15.97 per cent, followed by Peshawar at 13.62 per cent and Mirpur at 11.49 per cent, the NCOC revealed.

The positivity ratio in various federating units was observed at 7.36 per cent in Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK), 4.75 per cent in Balochistan, 2.43 per cent in Islamabad, 5.55 per cent in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P), 4.49 per cent in Punjab and 9.49 per cent in Sindh.

As for the death toll, Pakistan’s Covid-19 death toll jumped to 10,863, with most deaths reported in Punjab, followed by Sindh. At least 2,294 Covid-19 patients are currently in a critical condition.

AstraZeneca has been a British-Sweden joint multinational pharma company, which has produced the vaccine in collaboration with Oxford University. The vaccine, approved by the British Medicine and Healthcare Products Regulatory Authority, is said to be effective for people of all age groups and could be stored in home refrigerators.

After the approval of the British vaccine from the relevant authority, AZD1222 can be imported in Pakistan. A Karachi-based pharmaceutical company will import the British vaccine, whereas, the price of vaccine for the private sector will be fixed by the government.

Earlier on Thursday, it emerged that AstraZeneca had also sought approval for its vaccine from Pakistan after China’s Sinopharm.

AstraZeneca had applied for registration to the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP) through a Pakistani pharmaceutical company besides submitting data of the clinical trials of the vaccine.

It may be noted that Pakistan had announced to buy 1.2 million doses of the corona vaccine from Sinopharm, a state-run Chinese firm, which is developing two COVID-19 vaccines.

The pandemic has already killed 2 million people around the world, sown chaos through the global economy and upended normal life for billions since it began in Wuhan, China, a year ago.

Read more: WHO says ‘will do everything’ to find Covid-19 origins

Britain and South Africa in particular are grappling with new variants of the coronavirus, which the government and scientists say are more contagious; many countries have responded by banning passenger flights and blocking trade.

AstraZeneca and other developers have said they are studying the impact of the new variant but expect that their shots will be effective against it.

Regulatory endorsement is a welcome boost for AstraZeneca and the Oxford team, which have been accused of a lack of clarity about the results from late-stage trials.

Pooled results from those trials show it had overall efficacy was 70.4%. Efficacy was 62% for trial participants given two full doses, but 90% for a smaller sub-group given a half, then a full dose.

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Researchers said that the finding of 90% efficacy for the low-dose/high-dose regime needed more investigation. AstraZeneca did not specify which dose regime had been approved.



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