ISLAMABAD: On Wednesday, the Special Assistant to Prime Minister (SAPM) on Health Dr Faisal Sultan told the media in a press conference that Pakistan is progressing well in talks with two pharmaceutical companies to procure the COVID-19 vaccine. 

He added that the government will inoculate people free of cost, in the first phase, the healthcare workers and people over 60 years of age will be inoculated, he added.

The SAPM informed that the two companies, Sinopharm and CanSino, had produced vaccines with the efficacy rate of around 80-85% and the former is being used in multiple countries. 

Meanwhile, CanSino is in Phase-III of its trails in Pakistan, which are expected to conclude soon. The vaccine would be available soon, said Dr Sultan, contingent on its trial results. 17,500 people were part of the vaccine trials, and trials in three out of five centres have concluded, while they are near completion in two centres.

Pakistan is entitled to 20 million doses of the CanSino vaccine, which will be made available if the vaccine proves to be effective and safe in trials. The statistical analysis for the vaccine has started and is expected to produce results by the beginning of February.  

Furthermore, Pakistan also expects to acquire doses for 20% of its population through COVVAX, the World Health Organization (WHO) platform which has brought together 64 nations and their pharmaceutical companies to provide vaccine to the developing world. 

The SAPM informed that Pakistan is currently in talks with China and the UK to ensure access to the vaccine through the COVAX facility. “Today, we also met the UK’s ambassador, and I assure you that we will announce a positive outcome soon,” he said.

Explaining the statistical dimensions of the issue, the SAPM said that 120 million people out of a population of 220 million are under the age of 18. “The vaccine is approved for the adult population, and if we can inoculate 70% of our population, I expect the country to achieve immunity.”

The committee that was tasked with procuring the vaccines initiated talks with the eight short-listed companies, in addition to registering companies whose results were available. Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP) had approved AstraZeneca and Sinopharm’s vaccines in the last few days, he said.


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