Pakistan will purchase 1.2 million doses of coronavirus vaccine from China’s Sinopharm, Minister for Science and Technology Fawad Chaudry said on Thursday.
“The Cabinet Committee has decided to initially purchase 1.2 million doses of the vaccine from the Chinese company Sinopharm, which will be provided free of cost to frontline workers in the first quarter of 2021,” the science minister announced on Twitter.
China approved a COVID-19 vaccine developed by an affiliate of state-backed pharmaceutical giant Sinopharm on Thursday, its first approved shot for general public use.
Fawad Chaudhry added that the private sector can also import the vaccine approved internationally.
Sources said a decision to this effect was taken Wednesday at the second meeting of the Special Cabinet Committee constituted as an oversight body for procurement of the COVID-19 vaccine.
The meeting was chaired by Minister for Planning Asad Umar and attended by Minister for Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhry and Minister for Industries Hammad Azhar. The Special Assistant to PM on Poverty Alleviation Dr Sania Nishtar and SAPM on Health Dr Faisal Sultan attended the meeting on the invitation.
The committee was apprised that a number of countries have pre-booked COVID-19 vaccine based on preliminary or incomplete results in order to ensure timely availability of vaccines for their populations. In some situations, vaccines were pre-booked even in development stages to ensure availability.
The committee was informed of the deliberations of an expert committee formed by DRAP which is in process of reviewing and analyzing available data from clinical studies performed so far. Of available options, data from one company has been submitted for review to the committee for a final adjudication for emergency use.
In line with global practices at present whereby emergency procurement has to be made at times with incomplete and evolving information, the committee decided to pre-book COVID-19 vaccine from Sinopharm.
It was also decided that other manufacturers of COVID-19 vaccine will continue to be engaged in for future bookings for the remaining phases of vaccination, based on further data and availability.
The committee reiterated that the private sector will also be encouraged to approach DRAP and follow the laid down procedures for emergency use authorization of any available and safe COVID-19 vaccine.