Pakistan has remained adamant in its efforts to eradicate the novel coronavirus. With frontline workers give it their all, day in and day out, the country aims to vaccinate its almost 50 million adult population with the Chinese as well as European Covid-19 vaccines, while limited quantity of mRNA vaccines developed by the Pfizer-BioNtech and Moderna could also be used subject to their availability, for which storage and deployment capacity are being heightened. In a latest development, the National Health Services, Regulation and Coordination (NHS, R&C) told The News that the country has placed an order for the single-dose Chinese vaccine Ad5-nCoV vaccine (Cansino Bio), with the first batch slated to arrive in Pakistan within a week’s time.
“We have placed an order for the purchase of CanSino Biologics Inc’s single-dose vaccine and its first tranche of 60,000 doses is expected to be delivered to Pakistan within a week,” an official of the National Health Serivces told the publication, without the mention of an exact date. The single-dose Chinese vaccine can be given to people of all ages as it was found effective among people from 18 years to 80 plus years during trials in Pakistan and other countries around the world.
The official stated that the CanSino Biologics Inc’s vaccine would also be manufactured partially in Pakistan. This comes after its fruitful conclusion of trials at leading health centres in the country. The registration board of Pakistan’s Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP) had given emergency use authorization to CanSino Biologics’s single-dose vaccine in the second week of February 2021 after the Chinese manufacturer released interim efficacy results from a multi-country trial, which included Pakistan, showing 65.7% efficacy in preventing symptomatic COVID-19 cases and a 90.98% success rate in stopping severe infections.
Special Assistant to Prime Minister (SAPM) on Health Dr Faisal Sultan noted that the vaccine manufacturing facility was being upgraded with the help of CanSino Biologics Inc’s at NIH Islamabad, adding that Pakistani scientists and experts would be trained by the Chinese biotechnology firm for the same.
Snubbing preconceived notions
The Chinese COVID-19 vaccine, Sinopharm, kicked off its first phase of inoculation today, being administered on people over 60 years of age. Top health professionals and experts have slammed the general misperceptions surrounding the coronavirus vaccines.
Renowned Pulmonologist Dr Shazli Manzoor told The News that people must take advantage of the shots of the available Covid-19 vaccine, Sinopharm, which has been tested and its efficacy proven. He said there were no major side-effects either. Echoing the sentiments, Professor Dr Saeed Akhtar added, “I believe that any vaccine which is available now can be used without fear.”
The Chinese vaccine is being administered in the absence of the European AstraZeneca. Parliamentary Secretary on Health Dr Nausheen Hamid said getting the jab is the only way to control the pandemic. While fever and body pain are possible side-effects, they can be controlled through painkiller tablets. She added that soon travel restrictions may be imposed on countries and citizens who have not gotten themselves vaccinated against Covid-19. “We must avoid such an eventuality and should not fall in this category of countries,” concluded Hamid.
Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Health Dr Faisal Sultan, who received the same vaccine, said that Sinopharm was being used in multiple nations around the globe including the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.