Islamabad: The Ministry of National Health Services, Regulations, and Coordination has said that the first batch of China’s single-dose CanSino COVID-19 vaccine would be available for administration to the citizens by the end of this month after thorough rigorous quality control checks.
According to an official of the ministry, the first batch of bulk CanSino vaccine was being processed at the National Institute of Health’s (NIH) plant, which was set up for this purpose last month, and a specially trained team was working on it.
He said that due to the agreement on technology transfer, the National Institute of Health would be able to produce three million doses per month which would significantly reduce the country’s dependence on other countries.
He said that Pakistan would become largely self-sufficient in meeting its COVID-19 vaccine needs as it would begin producing the single-dose CanSino Bio vaccine locally. He said that China was a strong partner and had gone out of its way in keeping up a supply chain and transferring technology to Pakistan.
He said that out of the total stock of vaccine doses imported, ninety-one percent was purchased by the government while the remaining nine percent were gifted by China.
He said that the government had planned to vaccinate 70 million population by the end of the year 2021.
He said that the population of Pakistan, which is currently eligible for vaccination is 100 million out of 220 million as the vaccines have only been approved for those above 18.
He added for the first half of the year, January to June 2021, the government had received and expected to receive 19.82 million doses. He added 91% of these doses are purchased, which clearly shows we are not dependent on donations.
He said, “In totality, we have signed deals for over 30 million doses already so the fact that we have already secured 30 million doses and would continue to procure more the rest of the year should be very reassuring.” He said that Pakistan was gradually increasing the figure of daily vaccination with so far over five million while the target was to reach over 300,000 vaccinations daily in the country.
He said that the government has started vaccination for 30 years and above and in this regard, the registration had been started. He said, “Our procurement is a result of proactive efforts as the government initiated the conversation with vaccine manufacturers and GAVI in July 2020 which is well before any vaccine had been fully developed and approved.”
He said that 4,329 reports of vaccine adverse effects have been reported so far and nearly all reports were of mild and expected side effects while 90 percent involved pain at the site of injection or fever. Only six serious events have been reported which were investigated thoroughly and each found to be coincidental and non-attributable to the vaccine.
He added in addition to existing guidelines, the AstraZeneca vaccine will be administered to those over the age of 40 in line with practices in many countries.