Planning minister says China will provide same vaccine in bulk to Pakistan by mid-April to manufacture an additional 3 million doses
Planning Minister Asad Umar on Tuesday announced that Pakistan will receive the first batch of a coronavirus vaccine produced by CanSino Biologics Inc. today, adding that this would be followed by a bulk delivery of around 3 million doses by mid-April.
“First batch of CanSino vaccine procured being received today,” he posted on Twitter, referring to the vaccine marketed as Convidecia. “This is the vaccine in which Pakistan participated in Phase-III trials, which was the first time ever that Pakistan had done so for any vaccine,” he added.
The single-dose Chinese vaccine has an efficacy of 65.7 percent at preventing symptomatic cases, based on late-stage trials. According to Special Assistant to the P.M. on Health Dr. Faisal Sultan, it also proved 90.98 percent effective in preventing severe disease. In February, he had announced that Pakistan would receive 20 million doses of the vaccine, adding that in Pakistani trials it had shown an efficacy of 74.8 percent in preventing symptomatic cases. Authorities have repeatedly stressed that the single-shot would be especially beneficial in Pakistan, as inoculated individuals would not need to return to vaccination centers for additional doses.
According to Umar, the first batch would be followed by additional doses next month. “We will be getting bulk vaccine by mid-April from CanSino from which 3 million vaccine doses can be made,” he said. “The bulk vaccine received would be formulated, sterilized and packed in Pakistan. For this purpose special equipment has been procured and manpower is being trained,” he added.
Authorities had earlier suggested that Pakistan was guaranteed doses of the CanSino vaccine after having participated in clinical trials. However, writing in daily Dawn, former SAPM on Health Dr. Zafar Mirza claimed that Pakistan did not insist for a right to access these vaccines once they were produced and approved. “This was the first such trial in Pakistan. This anomaly should not be repeated with future trials. Our population should not act as guinea pigs, but instead receive a guaranteed fair share from the manufacturers once the trial is complete,” he added.
Separately, Sindh Health Minister Dr. Azra Pechuho announced that the provincial government had allocated Rs. 500 million to independently procure doses of the CanSino vaccine, adding that the federal government had approved the decision.