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Pakistan

Web Desk
July 23, 2020

Pakistan forms taskforce for COVID-19 vaccine strategy

Pakistan

Web Desk
Thu, Jul 23, 2020
SAPM DR Mirza says government has formed a National Vaccine Taskforce, which will develop and execute the country's strategy to ensure early, equitable and reliable access to COVID19 vaccine(s) in Pakistan. Photo:File

Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Health Dr Zafar Mirza has said it is "unlikely" that a coronavirus vaccine will emerge this year despite multiple candidates being developed to treat COVID-19.

The SAPM passed the observation while sharing an article by the Financial Times published in May about a letter signed by over 140 public figures, including Prime Minister Imran Khan, calling for a "people's vaccine" against coronavirus.

"We have formed National Vaccine Taskforce, which will develop and execute our strategy to ensure early, equitable and reliable access to COVID19 vaccine(s) in Pakistan," tweeted Dr Mirza.

According to Dr Mirza, so far there have been "roughly 150 vaccine initiatives" across the world. He said that close to a dozen of those vaccines are in the "advanced stage", adding that Pakistan was "closely monitoring" the progress of those medications.

"It is unlikely that a vaccine will become available anytime soon, not in this year at least it seems," concluded Dr Mirza in the tweet.

The letter, which was made public in May, insists that any eventual COVID-19 vaccines and treatments should be made available to everyone, free of charge.

In the letter, the world leaders had also demanded that any vaccine should not be patented while the science should be shared between nations.

The letter was shared ahead of the World Health Assembly, the policy-setting body of the UN's World Health Organisation, which was scheduled to hold its annual general meeting in the same month. The signatories had called on the WHA to rally behind the cause.

"Governments and international partners must unite around a global guarantee which ensures that, when a safe and effective vaccine is developed, it is produced rapidly at scale and made available for all people, in all countries, free of charge," the letter said.

"The same applies for all treatments, diagnostics, and other technologies for COVID-19."

The letter was also signed by Senegalese President Macky Sall and Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo.

Former presidents and prime ministers among the signatories included Shaukat Aziz, Jan Peter Balkenende, Jose Manuel Barroso, Gordon Brown, Helen Clark, Felipe Gonzalez, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Aleksander Kwasniewski, Mary McAleese, Olusegun Obasanjo and Juan Manuel Santos.