Pakistan yet to place any order for Covid-19 vaccine

Amid speculations about coronavirus trials in Pakistan, top federal government health authorities have confirmed that Pakistan has neither placed any final order yet to acquire the COVID-19 vaccine nor has any vaccine manufacturer accepted the country’s request for supply of the vaccine,  reported on Friday.

Several countries, especially developed nations, have already started vaccinating their frontline workers against COVID-19. But developing countries like Pakistan still struggle to acquire safe and effective vaccines.

Moreover, in a telephonic interview with the publication, Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Health Dr Faisal Sultan said: “Although, we are striving hard to get the first batch of COVID-19 vaccine at the earliest for our frontline workers and others the final order has not yet been placed and accepted (by any vaccine manufacturer).”

He said that so far China’s Sinopharm has submitted its data with the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP) and the health authorities are negotiating with the firm for the supply of vaccines but there was no agreement with them as yet.

“The second vaccine candidate is Cansino, whose trials are currently underway and they are a couple of weeks away from submitting their data to us. We are also interested in Russian vaccine Sputnik V, who have submitted some data but we have sought more data from them,” he informed.

Shedding light upon the acquisition of Western vaccines, the top health official said that negotiations are underway with Astrazeneca’s manufacturer. 

“We are trying to get AstraZeneca vaccine both through the Covax facility and through direct procurement,” he added.

‘Target to vaccinate 100 million of Pakistan’s adult population’

Health authorities in Pakistan are aiming to vaccinate around 100 million of its adult population or at least 70-80 million people, reads the report.

The procedure will take time and a ‘mix and match’ of vaccines to vaccinate the targeted population.

Meanwhile, members of an expert committee on the COVID-19 vaccine and officials at the DRAP said that given the disappointing data of China’s Sinovac vaccine during its trials in Brazil, Pakistan was ‘not rushing to acquire’ COVID-19 vaccine from any country.

According to the sources, the authorities shared that the Chinese vaccine was only found to be 50.4% effective in Brazilian clinical trials which shows that more data is required as using a 50% effective vaccine would be a total waste of efforts and resources.

 “We need to assess the data of the vaccine’s efficacy ourselves before selecting it for the population. We would prefer a vaccine which has an emergency use authorization either from US FDA, European authorities or the World Health Organisation or its data shows at least 80-90 percent efficacy and safety,” an official of the DRAP told The News.

In addition, researchers associated with phase three clinical trials of China’s Cansino vaccine also said a few weeks’ were required for the first interim analysis of the vaccine.

They highlighted that a more careful approach to select a vaccine for the people, based on complete data of the trials is required to make the final decision in this regard.

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