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February 7, 2021

‘Pakistan to get second consignment of Chinese vaccine tomorrow’

Karachi

February 7, 2021

The second consignment of China’s Sinopharm vaccine comprising half a million doses is expected to arrive in Pakistan on Monday night through a special flight of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Air Force, Pakistani and Chinese officials said on Saturday.

“China is donating a second consignment of the Sinopharm vaccine to Pakistan, which will reach Islamabad on Monday, February 8, 2021, through special transport aircraft of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Air Force,” an official of the Pakistan government confirmed to The News on Saturday.

The official said this consignment was “army-to- army collaboration” between the Pakistani and Chinese militaries and no further details could be divulged to the media at the moment.

Chinese media also confirmed that Pakistan was going to receive another donation of the Sinopharm vaccine from the powerful neighbour and ally but they did not provide details of the doses being sent to Islamabad.

Pakistan has already received 500,000 doses of the Chinese vaccine, which is being used to inoculate frontline healthcare workers in the country. So far, over 12,000 frontline healthcare workers have already been vaccinated.

Health authorities in Pakistan said they were also going to get around six to seven million doses of Oxford-AstraZeneca’s AZD1222 vaccine by the end of the current month, which would be used to inoculate the remaining healthcare workers as well as people above 65 years of age, as the Chinese vaccine is not recommended for the people above 60 years due to lack of data.

They said that through the COVAX facility Pakistan was expected to get at least 17 million doses of Oxford-AstraZeneca’s vaccine, while it is also hopeful of getting a few hundred thousand doses of Pfizer-BioNTech’s mRNA vaccine “BNT162b2” in donation, for which Ultra Cold Chain (UCC) equipment is also being acquired.

Pakistan has so far granted emergency use authorisation for three vaccines -- Sinopharm, AstraZeneca and Sputnik V developed by Russia -- but so far only China’s Sinopharm vaccine has managed to reach the country. Currently, it is being used to vaccinate the frontline healthcare workers.

Officials at the National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination (NHSR&C) said that Phase III clinical trials of another Chinese vaccine, Cansino, had already been completed in various countries of the world, including Pakistan, and analysis of its data was underway at the moment in Canada. They said that as soon as its data was made available to a committee of experts, the vaccine would be granted emergency use authorisation in Pakistan.