Around 1m doses will be available by end-March
Pakistan is in the “advanced stage” of discussions for the procurement of COVID-19 vaccines from Chinese companies Sinopharm and Cansino, PM’s aide on health Dr Faisal Sultan announced Wednesday.
Around 1 million doses of the vaccines will be available in the country by the end of the first quarter, Dr Sultan said at a press conference in Islamabad.
“If we inoculate 70% of those over 18 years, we could achieve herd immunity,” he said.
The vaccination campaign will cover the whole country through the Expanded Programme of Immunisation, which is responsible for vaccine delivery to children. It will handle the storage of vaccine doses too.
The EPI has reviewed its cold chain facilities and can expand them further as well, Dr Sultan stated.
“We had to upgrade our information system because it was developed to record the data of children,” the PM’s aide said, adding that EPI vaccines are delivered to young children only.
A resource management system that collects and stores data of health workers is also in place. More than 400,000 health workers have already registered, Dr Sultan said.
The PM’s aide discussed the efficacy and safety profile of Sinopharm and Cansino vaccines.
Sinopharm’s shot had proved to be around 80% effective in clinical trials being carried out in different countries. Countries such as the UAE and Bahrain have already started vaccination drives and China had administered the shot to its health workers last year.
The Cansino vaccine is in the third stage of clinical trials in Pakistan. The trial is being carried out in five centres out of which three have completed it and begun analysing results. Results will be available by early February, Dr Sultan said.
Apart from these two vaccines, the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan had given emergency approval to vaccines developed by Sinopharm and Oxford-AstraZeneca.
These are the details of bilateral arrangements Pakistan has made directly with vaccine-makers, the PM’s aide said.
The World Health Organisation’s COVAX facility will also be providing vaccine doses to the country. Around 20% of the population will receive vaccines through this facility.
Dr Sultan said the country had the capacity to procure 20 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine.