Official says govt still plans to inoculate people for free
Pakistan will allow private companies to import COVID-19 vaccines, Reuters reported Thursday.
The health ministry sought a special cabinet exemption to allow for such imports, it reported, citing official documents.
It sought to exclude these imported vaccines from the strict price cap regime applied to drug sales in the country.
Prime Minister Imran Khan’s cabinet has approved the proposal, according to the documents.
PM’s aide on health Faisal Sultan told Reuters that it was an “approval of the principle that private sector can import” and drive the pricing due to “the non-availability of a reference price”.
Pakistan has yet to secure a substantial number of vaccines from any company. The country earlier this month launched an inoculation drive with 500,000 doses of the Sinopharm vaccine donated by China.
It is vaccinating frontline health workers for now.
Pakistan still plans to inoculate its people for free, Dr Sultan said. Only a “small minority” who wished to pay for the vaccines will have that option in the open market, he added.
“Only those who wish to get it via private sector will pay anything,” he told Reuters. “Personally, my assessment is that when the vaccines are available and we have market competition, that will automatically set the prices.”
Pakistan is mostly reliant on COVAX, the WHO co-led globally-pooled vaccine procurement and distribution effort. It has yet to receive any vaccines from COVAX.