Government announces formula for vaccines procured by the private sector
Representatives of the Pakistan Medical Association (PMA) on Sunday urged the government to implement a full, nationwide lockdown to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus in the ongoing third wave of the pandemic.
Addressing a press conference in Lahore, PMA President Dr. Ashraf Nizami said the lockdown should be imposed alongside an expanded vaccination program to expedite the process of protecting the public from COVID-19. “The government must immediately declare a state of emergency, especially in Punjab,” he said, referring to the province emerging as the epicenter of the current surge in coronavirus infections. He noted that the government had previously adopted a lockdown policy due to mounting pressure from different organizations and warned the situation was getting worse right now.
“The countrywide COVID-19 positivity ratio has exceeded 10 percent,” he said, and lamented that the government’s “criminal negligence” in providing vaccines was endangering public health.
In addition to Dr. Nizami, the press conference was also attended by PMA Lahore Vice-President Dr. Khalid Mahmood Khan; PMA Lahore Lady Vice-President Dr. Erum Shahzadi; PMA Punjab President Dr. Tanveer Anwar; Pakistan Islamic Medical Association Punjab President Dr. Imran Zafar, and other frontline healthcare workers.
Privately procured vaccines
Separately, the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP) has issued a formula for the maximum retail price of privately procured COVID-19 vaccines, which are aimed at reducing the burden on the government for ensuring that the eligible population is vaccinated quickly.
According to a notification, two formulas have been approved for sale of the vaccines, allowing for 40 percent profit for importing companies, and 15 percent for retailers/hospitals where the inoculations would be administered.
The notification has yet to be published, but states that in exercise of powers conferred under Section 12 of the Drugs Act 1976, the federal government has fixed a mechanism for maximum retail prices of COVID-19 vaccines. Under the first formula, the trade price would be equal to landed cost plus 40 percent profit. The second formula, meanwhile, deals with imported vaccines procured in bulk and envisages a price equal to landed cost plus packaging and 40 percent mark-up. Both formulae allow for 15 percent of the price to be retained as commission by retailers/institutions.
The DRAP notification stresses that only vaccines that have been registered or approved for emergency use would be allowed to be sold or distributed in the local market. “The vaccines shall be administered in private sector hospitals and institutions,” it adds.
A summary submitted to the federal cabinet has suggested the price of Russian vaccine Sputnik V would be fixed at Rs. 8,449 for two-doses, while the single-dose CanSino vaccine would be available at Rs. 4,225.
No ‘complete lockdown’
In an interview with private broadcaster Geo News, Planning Minister Asad Umar, who also heads the National Command and Operation Center overseeing the national COVID-19 strategy, said the government would not impose a nationwide lockdown.
“Complete lockdown is not the solution,” he reiterated, adding that the government had already conveyed its position in the past. “You cannot shut down the entire country and steal people’s livelihoods,” he said, but noted that the government could implement “targeted interventions” in areas with high incidence of the virus.