Covid-19: Pakistan approves second Chinese vaccine

Karachi: Pakistan has confirmed it had approved the second Chinese vaccine against the Covid-19 pandemic.
Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on health Dr Faisal Sultan said the government had given authorization of the emergency use of single-dose CanSino vaccine.

The approval by Drug Regulation Authority of Pakistan (DRAP), he said, had been given after a “successful” phase-three trials of the vaccine in the country.

Pakistan is the second country after Mexico to have authorized the emergency use of the CanSino vaccine. Islamabad has already authorized the emergency use of China’s Sinopharm, Oxford-AstraZeneca, and Russia’s Sputnik vaccine.

Earlier this month, Pakistan received 500,000 doses of the Sinopharm vaccine as a “gift” from China. Another 1.1 million pre-ordered doses are expected later this month.

The South Asian country of over 200 million people has already begun the much-awaited vaccination campaign. In the first phase, frontline health workers and those above 65 years of age are being inoculated.

Last month, the government announced securing 17 million doses of the vaccine developed by Oxford-AstraZeneca through the WHO-led COVAX initiative. The country has so far registered 560,363 coronavirus cases, including 12,218 deaths.

Pakistan, largely reliant on the GAVI/WHO COVAX initiative for poorer nations, has also allowed private companies to import coronavirus vaccines and has agreed to exempt such imports from price caps.

CanSinoBIO last week released interim efficacy results from a multi-country trial, which included Pakistan, showing 65.7% efficacy in preventing symptomatic coronavirus cases and a 90.98% success rate in stopping severe infections.

In the Pakistani subset, efficacy of the CanSinoBIO vaccine at preventing symptomatic cases was 74.8% and 100% at preventing severe disease.

The decision to allow commercial imports of the vaccine with an exemption on upper price caps has sparked criticism.

Pakistan has recorded more than 550,000 cases of COVID-19 and more than 12,000 deaths but has yet to receive any of the 17 million doses it is expected to get through the COVAX initiative.

The country earlier this month launched a vaccination drive with 500,000 doses of Sinopharm donated by longtime ally China to give to frontline healthcare workers as priority.