Pakistan to buy 1.2 million COVID-19 vaccine doses from China’s Sinopharm

Islamabad: Pakistan has said it will buy 1.2 million COVID-19 vaccine doses from China’s Sinopharm. The health officials confirmed the purchase as Pakistan battles the second wave of coronavirus that has claimed more than 10,000 lives this year.

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The cabinet committee has given the go-ahead to procure the Chinese vaccine. Minister for Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhry disclosed the decision on Twitter, saying that the vaccine “will be provided free of cost to frontline health workers in the first quarter of 2021”. Pakistan will also allow the private pharmaceutical companies to import the vaccines, he added. The country reported 2,475 new infections of the novel coronavirus and 58 deaths from the coronavirus on December 30.

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Frontline workers will get the vaccine first

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The two-dose vaccine will be first administered to frontline workers and “in the second phase, the vaccine will be procured for the citizens over 65 years of age,” said Minister for Planning and Development Asad Umar. Pakistan is also planning to secure vaccine from Western pharmaceutical companies as well, said the minister who is spearheading the national fight against COVID-19. Pakistan had approved $250 million in funding to buy COVID-19 vaccines and also signed non-disclosure agreements with various multinational companies.

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Special committee for procurement of vaccine

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Pakistan has formed a special cabinet committee to supervise the procurement of COVID-19 vaccine which held its second meeting on Wednesday, chaired by Minister Asad Umar and attended by Minister for Science Fawad Chaudhry, Minister for Industries Hammad Azhar, Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Health Dr Faisal Sultan and SAPM on Poverty Alleviation Dr Sania Nishtar to review the overall situation.

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Discussing the global situation where several countries have hastily pre-booked COVID-19 vaccine based on preliminary or incomplete results to ensure timely availability, Pakistan decided to pre-book the vaccine from a Chinese state-owned company, Sinopharm, based on data submitted and timely availability” the Ministry of National Health Services said. After the final approval by the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP), “the government will provide free of cost vaccine to all frontline health workers.”

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China approves Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine

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• Pakistan announced the procurement of the Sinopharm vaccine, developed by Beijing Biological Products Institute Co., after China approved the COVID-19 vaccine for public use.

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• Sinopharm vaccine is found to be 79 per cent effective.

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• The Chinese government has vowed to produce 610 million doses by the end of the year and more than one billion doses next year. • Another Chinese vaccine, Sinovac, developed by a private Beijing-based vaccine maker, has produced millions of doses and has already sent shipment of vaccines to Brazil and Indonesia each.

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