Federal Minister for Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhry has said the cabinet committee decided to initially purchase 1.2 million doses of the Covid-19 vaccine from the Chinese company Sinopharm.

Will the Coronavirus Vaccine be Free in Pakistan?

This is a piece of relieving news for the people of Pakistan the purchased vaccine doses will be provided free of charge to the frontline workers in the first quarter of 2021. Fawad Chaudhry took to his social media (Twitter) and wrote on Thursday.

The federal minister also released the statement that the private sector is allowed to import any internationally approved vaccine on its own.

The committee was informed that a number of countries have pre-booked Covid-19 vaccine based on preliminary or incomplete results in order to ensure the timely availability of vaccines for their populations. In some situations, vaccines were also pre-booked even in developing stages. Furthermore, the deliberations of an expert committee formed by DRAP is in process of reviewing and analyzing available data from recent successful clinical studies performed so far. Out of available options, data from one company has been submitted for review to the committee for a final adjudication for the emergency use of the vaccine.

The meeting was chaired by Minister for Planning Asad Umar and attended by Minister for Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhry and Minister for Industries Hammad Azhar. The Special Assistant to PM on Poverty Alleviation Dr. Sania Nishtar and SAPM on Health Dr. Faisal Sultan attended the meeting on the invitation.

Previously on Wednesday, Federal Planning Minister and NCOC Chief Asad Umar also tweeted, “Authorized procurement of more than 1 million vaccines which will cover all frontline health workers, as soon as DRAP expert committee approves vaccine.”

According to Fawad Chaudhry, the 1.2m doses purchase would be of the vaccine candidate developed by Sinopharm’s Beijing Institute of Biological Products. The Chinese firm Sinopharm has another candidate, developed by the Wuhan Institute of Biological Products, which is also in phase III trials.

Pakistan earlier this month approved $150 million to buy COVID-19 vaccines, initially to cover the most vulnerable 5% of the Pakistani population, but still has not announced which one it would procure, the officials might be tapping more than one source for the procurement of the vaccines.

The vaccine has already been rolled out in the UAE and Bahrain. The UAE began emergency use on September 14th and approved the vaccine for full use on December 6. Bahrain began inoculating health workers on December 13.

With Pakistan registers its first cases with the Coronavirus mutant, the reliability of the vaccine has increased. The news of the Coronavirus variant coming to Pakistan is concerning because, according to a study by the Centre for Mathematical Modelling of Infectious Diseases at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine in the UK that, “The increase in transmissibility [of new variant] is likely to lead to a large increase in incidence, with Covid-19 hospitalizations and deaths projected to reach higher levels in 2021 than were observed in 2020, even if regional tiered restrictions implemented before 19 December are maintained,” said researchers.

The World Health Organisation also tweeted earlier this month that it was “in close contact with UK officials on the new #COVID19 virus variant” and promised to update governments and the public as more is learned. The new variant was first detected in early September 2020. Around November 2020 with a few cases emerged in London having the new variant. This reached nearly two-thirds of cases in mid-December. The variance came to dominance with the testing results in some centers. 

Covid-19 Stats in Pakistan Currently 

Pakistan on Thursday reported 58 Covid-19 related deaths during the last 24 hours, taking the country’s total death toll to 10,105. According to the NCOC, most deaths were reported in Punjab, followed by Sindh. The NCOC added that 31 Covid-19 patients died on the ventilator during the last 24 hours.

In Sindh, the ratio of total reported deaths is 3533, out of 10,105 in total. The ratio of deaths in total for Punjab is 4,013. 1,638 in Khyber Pakhtun Khwa and 416 in Islamabad. Around 183 deaths had been reported in Balochistan and 101 deaths in Gilgit Baltistan and 221 in AJK.

According to the NCOC report, about 4,960 patients had recovered from the deadly pandemic in the last 24 hours taking total recoveries to 435,073. The NCOC also reported that a total of 6,696,068 tests had been conducted since the outbreak of the virus. There are about 626 hospitals with Covid-19 facilities with 2,691 patients admitted across the country.

This time the virus is much stronger and more transmissible, public service campaigns have started to emerge more than ever, to wear the mask, because the availability of the vaccine will not be for everyone in the initial phases. The protection with mask and sanitizer should be the topmost priority for everyone!