Pakistan’s drug regulator has approved China’s Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use in the country, paving the way for planned procurement of over a million doses next month.
A spokesman for the health ministry, in a statement, said the drug regulatory authority has so far approved two coronavirus vaccines, including Sinopharm for emergency use.
The development follows Islamabad’s approval of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine for emergency use last week.
Dr. Faisal Sultan, special assistant to the prime minister on health, had told Anadolu Agency earlier this month Pakistan is expecting the first installment of 1.1 million doses from China’s Sinopharm by the first week of February.
However, he recently acknowledged that the Health Ministry has not placed an order for the vaccine.
Sultan, who effectively acts as the health minister, dispelled the impression that the government has delayed procurement, saying an order for the Sinopharm vaccine will be placed within the next few days.
Pakistan approves China's Sinopharm Covid vaccine. This comes days after it approved Oxford astrazeneca vaccine, a substantial quantity of which is being produced in India under the name Covidshield.
— Sidhant Sibal (@sidhant) January 19, 2021
Federal Minister for Planning Asad Umar, who heads the country’s anti-virus strategy, told reporters on Sunday that the government has allowed the private sector and the provinces to procure vaccines at their own after permission from the drug regulatory authority.
Pakistan, which has so far recorded 521,221coronavirus cases and 10,997 deaths, wants to launch a nationwide immunization drive by the second quarter of 2021, according to the officials.
Clinical trials of Chinese Covid-19 vaccine successful in Pakistan
The ongoing Chinese Covid-19 vaccine trials have resulted in successful responses, says Professor Dr. Javed Akram, the Vice-Chancellor of UHS, and are likely to be concluded at the end of this week. The trials were being held at the University of Health Sciences (UHS) and approximately 17,000 volunteers have been administered the vaccine.
A thorough report on the clinical trial’s findings will be made public soon, informed Dr. Akram.
He further informed that the Covid-19 vaccine would cost approximately $3-4 and is currently being registered with the Drug Regulatory Authority (DRAP). If 75 percent of the population is administered the vaccine, the chain of Covid-19 transmission would become less severe, Dr. Akram maintained.
A Chinese manufacturer namely CanSinaBIO has in partnership with the Beijing Institute of Biotechnology developed the vaccine being tested in clinical trials. The vaccine is called “Ad5-nCoV”. The clinical trial was commenced in September 2020, after the Drug Regulatory Authority allowed UHS to do so in August last year.
Anadolu with additional input by GVS News Desk