Saturday October 16, 2021

0.5m healthcare workers to get Covid vaccine in 1st phase

January 10, 2021

PHOENIX: The federal government has given approval for procurement of 1.1 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine from the Chinese company Sinopharm for 0.5 million healthcare personnel working in Pakistan, said Special Assistant to PM on National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination Dr Faisal Sultan.

Talking to this scribe, Dr Faisal said a three-member cabinet committee on COVID-19 vaccine procurement comprising Federal Minister Asad Umar, Federal Minister Fawad Chaudhry and Federal Minister Hammad Azhar has given approval for procuring the vaccine from the Chinese company in the first phase. Negotiations with the Sinopharm are in the final phase now.

The government has allocated $150 million for vaccine procurement. “I believe this amount is sufficient for the first phase, i.e. 1.1 million doses and for a couple of next phases too. In other words, this will cover a sizable population.

However, the allocated amount is not enough for covering the entire population of the country,” he said. “We are not procuring the vaccine only from Sinopharm but in parallel to this, we are negotiating with other companies too including CanSino Bio (another Chinese company), AstraZeneca, Sputnik (Russian) and Pfizer,” informed the special assistant.

To a question if Pakistan is considering buying the vaccine from India, Dr Faisal said: “We are not buying any vaccine from India directly.”

Besides, the government is also in contact with Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance which will provide free of cost vaccine to lower middle income countries. The Covax vaccine co-led by Gavi will cover almost 20 per cent of the population of Pakistan and it will be free. When asked about the Sinopharm vaccine per dose price, Dr Faisal said he doesn’t know about the vaccine price.

“We have three priorities: efficacy, availability and price. The cabinet committee is taking procurement decisions on the basis of these three elements. Our bilateral negotiations with the vaccine manufacturing companies are also based on these three rules. The cabinet committee will continue working until the last person in the country receives the vaccine,” commented Dr Faisal. Dr. Faisal said: “I am not a member of the cabinet but I along with Dr Sania Nishtar, Dr Asad Hafeez, Secretary Health and NIH top officials are assisting the committee.”