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January 24, 2021

If bought in bulk quantity: Firm offers Oxford-Astrazeneca’s vaccine for $6-7 per dose

Lahore

January 24, 2021

KARACH:A Pakistani firm, authorised to import Oxford-Astrazeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine, has offered to provide it at the cost of USD 6-7 per dose to the federal and provincial governments if they procure it in bulk quantity, The News has learnt. But it refused to give a proper timeline as to when it would be able to supply the vaccine in the country.

The local firm, Sindh Medical Stores (SMS), was allowed to import the Oxford-Astrazeneca’s vaccine in Pakistan by the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP) on Friday last when the authority, on the recommendations of an experts panel, gave the emergency use authorisation to the British-Swedish multinational company’s AZD-1222 vaccine in the country.

“After getting the emergency use authorisation and permission from the DRAP to import the Oxford-Astrazeneca’s AZD1222 vaccine in Pakistan, we have offered to provide it for USD 6-7 per dose to the federal and provincial governments. We, however, don’t know when we would be able to get hold of the first consignment of the vaccine as it has been already purchased by the several countries of the world,” Usman Ghani, an official of SMS, told The News on Wednesday. The SMS official, in offers to the federal and provincial governments, said they would be able to provide the British company’s vaccine tentatively for 6-7 dollars per dose (from Rs1,000 to 1,200 per dose) if it is purchased in the quantity of 30 to 50 million doses.

“For the private sector and institutions, we have offered to provide it for Rs2,000 to Rs2,500 per dose if they order 10,000 or more doses. But it should be very clear that we would only be providing the vaccine to reputed institutions like Aga Khan University Hospital (AKUH), Shaukat Khanum hospital and others,” Usman Ghani added.

Answering a query about the availability of Astrazeneca’s vaccine in Pakistan, he said he did not know when they would be able to get the vaccine for Pakistani people, saying at the moment, Astrazeneca was supplying it to other countries which had already booked the vaccine doses for their people and paid the company in advance.

“Astrazeneca has authorised to manufacture the vaccine in the Serum Institute of India, Pune, for bulk production but most of the production would be used for vaccinating a sizeable population of India before it is allowed to Pakistan. We have very good business relations with the Serum Institute of India and we would try our best to procure it as early as possible,” he added.

When asked some people were approaching the authorities, especially the Sindh government, to provide the Astrazeneca’s vaccine for 13.5 to 15.5 dollars, he said they were the ‘sole importers’ and authorised agents of the British firm Astrazeneca, which was not even ready to supply the vaccine directly to Pakistan and advised the authorities to remain cautious of people and firms, who would try to take an advantage of the situation due to urgency in getting the Covid-19 vaccine. “Similarly, there are reports that we have offered to supply the vaccine in thousands of rupees per dose, which is also incorrect and misleading. We cannot supply any product without the approval of DRAP and we hope that it would approve the vaccine price, which we have demanded,” he added.

Following the emergency use authorisation to both the British and Chinese vaccines, the matter has been forwarded to the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan’s pricing board, an official of the DRAP told The News, saying without the approval of pricing board, no product can be sold in Pakistan.

“The DRAP’s pricing board is reviewing the requests for price approval of both the vaccines,” the DRAP official said. Responding to a query, the DRAP official maintained that both the vaccines have been given emergency use authorisation and if any Adverse Effect Following Immunization (AEFI) was observed, the emergency use authorisation could be withdrawn immediately.