Saturday November 27, 2021

Chinese vaccine not suitable for people above 60, pregnant women: SAPM Dr Sultan

Dr. Faisal Sultan says people above 60 would be vaccinated with Oxford-AstraZeneca’s vaccine AZD1222

February 04, 2021

KARACHI: Although, Pakistani authorities have started vaccinating their frontline healthcare workers with Chinese vaccine Sinopharm all over the country, but that is not suitable and recommended for people above 60 years, pregnant women and lactating mothers, under 18 year-olds among others, the country’s top health authorities warned on Wednesday.

Confirming that Sinopharm vaccine should not be given to people above 60 years of age, Special Assistant to Prime Minister Dr. Faisal Sultan said people above 60 would be vaccinated with Oxford-AstraZeneca’s vaccine AZD1222, which is due for arrival in Pakistan in Feb.

“Astrazeneca and others – probably Pfizer’s vaccine are the most suitable option for the elderly. AstraZeneca’s vaccine is expected to reach Pakistan this month through Covax (international health alliance) while Pfizer’s vaccine in limited number may also be available in March this year,” SAPM Dr. Faisal Sultan told The News.

Responding to queries regarding other suitable vaccines for the elderly, he said Russian vaccine Sputnik and another Chinese vaccine Cansino, whose trials have recently concluded in Pakistan, could also be used to vaccinate the elderly and they would be available in the country ‘shortly’.

Some other leading infectious diseases experts also confirmed that Chinese vaccine Sinopharm was not recommended for people above 60 years of age due to lack of safety and efficacy data in the elderly and added that its trials were underway to determine efficacy for the elderly, pregnant women and lactating mothers.“ “Sinopharm vaccine can’t be given to those above 60 years of age due to pending data,” said Dr. Faisal Mehmood, an Infectious Diseases expert at the Aga Khan University Hospital (AKUH) while talking to The News.

Another infectious diseases expert associated with the National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination also confirmed that Sinopharm vaccine being used to inoculate frontline healthcare workers can’t be given to people above 60, saying: “For the moment (it can’t be given) as the sample size of 60+ persons in phase-3 trails is not adequate.”

The federal ministry’s Expanded Programme on Immunization (EPI) also issued Operating Procedures (SOPs) for Sinopharm Vaccine (Vero Cell) to all the Adult Vaccination Centers (AVCs) in the country, warning that this vaccine should not be given to individuals above 60 years of age, children below 18 years of age, pregnant women besides women of childbearing age should avoid getting pregnant two months after the second dose of the vaccine.

Besides, according to the SOPs the Sinopharm vaccine should also not be given to patients who have received SARS-CoV-2 monoclonal antibodies or convalescent plasma, patients with pre-existing respiratory or cardiovascular disease, patients with previous history of anaphylaxis and individuals who are allergic to any component (active, excipients) of this vaccine.

Similarly, Sinopharm vaccine is also not recommended for individuals with serious chronic disease or history of hypersensitivity. The vaccinators have been directed to postpone vaccination to individuals having fever or during acute phase of ay disease.

The EPI officials issued strong warnings against administering intravascular injection besides keeping the vaccinated individuals under observation for at least 30 minutes. The healthcare workers quarantined due to recent exposure of Covid-19 should not be vaccinated. They have also been instructed to avoid co-administration of Sinopharm vaccine along with any other vaccines.

This vaccine (Sinopharm) should be used with caution if the patient has any blood disorders such as reduced platelets (thrombocytopenia) or clotting disorders. This vaccine also should be used with caution if the patient has uncontrolled epilepsy and other progressive neurological disorders.

And most importantly, EPI officials said, vaccination should not be considered an alternate for wearing a mask, physical distancing and observing other SOPs for Covid-19 prevention.