Pakistan set to register Sinopharm’s COVID-19 vaccine

Gwadar Pro

Islamabad: Pakistan is set to register Chinese Sinopharm company’s coronavirus vaccine after the giant applied for registration over the weekend, officials said.

Special Assistant to Prime Minister Imran Khan on Health Dr Faisal Sultan said there should be no problem for registration of the vaccine from a company from Iron Brother China.

“Pakistan is in talks with five international coronavirus vaccine producing companies for the purchase. We are in contact with five companies of the three countries of the world including, China, United Kingdom and Russia to get the COVID-19 vaccine,” he said.

Earlier, Pakistan had announced to purchase 1.2 million doses of the corona vaccine from China. Sinopharm, a state-run Chinese firm, is developing two COVID-19 vaccines.

Pakistan is presently in the midst of another spate of infections, as the death toll has past 10,000 mark and overall infections in the country have crossed 500,000 figure.

Pakistan is running phase III clinical trials of another Chinese vaccine from CanSino Biologics’, led by the National Institute of Health.

Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP) officials said China’s Sinopharm had sought permission from Pakistan for emergency use of its COVID-19 vaccine in Pakistan.

The Chinese vaccine firm has submitted the complete data of the clinical trials of its vaccine to the authority. A meeting of the DRAP registration board is expected this week to give a green signal.

“Initially, the registration board is likely to approve the vaccine for emergency use in Pakistan. The approval from the Drug Regulatory Authority will allow the use of the Chinese vaccine in Pakistan,” said a senior official.

Special Assistant to Prime Minister Imran Khan on Health Dr Faisal Sultan said the COVID-19 vaccine would be available in Pakistan in March, and administered to health workers and senior citizens in the first phase. He said that the government will also run a special campaign before launching the COVID-19 vaccination programme.

Last week, Pakistan’s Federal Cabinet had accorded approval for the purchase of COVID-19 vaccine by the Ministry of Health from China. The approval had been made to save human lives timely and on emergency basis, said an official statement.

The cabinet, which met with Prime Minister Imran Khan in the chair, was briefed by Special Assistant on Health Dr Faisal Sultan about the current situation of coronavirus pandemic in the country.

It also approved the constitution of a special committee to adjudicate on the appeals made under Clause 21 of the Trade Organizations Act 2013. The committee would be able to exercise its authority after the completion of amendments in the relevant laws.

Pakistani Minister for Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhry said Pakistan was expected to purchase 1.2 million COVID-19 vaccine doses from China’s Sinopharm.

China has approved a COVID-19 vaccine developed by an affiliate of state-backed pharmaceutical giant Sinopharm, its first approved shot for general public use.

“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,” Fawad Chaudhry said.

Pakistan has already approved $ 150 million in funding to buy COVID-19 vaccines, initially to cover the most vulnerable 5 per cent of the population.

Last week, Federal Planning Minister Asad Umar tweeted: “(The government has) Authorized procurement of more than 1 million vaccines which will cover all frontline health workers, as soon as DRAP expert committee approves vaccine.”

China had approved its locally-manufactured Sinopharm vaccine after results of its clinical trials were released. The firm had announced that the vaccine had an efficacy rate of 79% based on early analysis of Phase 3 trials.

The vaccine has already been rolled out in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Bahrain. The UAE began emergency use on September 14 and approved the vaccine for full use on December 6. Bahrain began inoculating health workers on December 13.