Tuesday September 26, 2023

First-ever private consignment: First shipment of Russian Sputnik-V vaccine arrives

March 18, 2021

KARACHI: The first shipment of privately-imported Russian vaccine, Gam-Covid-Vac or Sputnik-V, comprising 50,000 doses arrived at the Jinnah International Airport, Karachi, on Wednesday night, said the health department officials, adding that the vaccine would be provided to big hospitals and medical institutions for administration.

“I congratulate the AGP Limited for receiving the first batch of Sputnik-V vaccines comprising 50,000 doses, and now from onwards, the shipments of Covid-19 vaccine would be delivered to Pakistan at regular intervals to help the country fight against the pandemic," Russian trade representative in Karachi Ruslan Aliev told ‘The News’. The double dose Sputnik-V has become the first Covid-19 vaccine available in Pakistan in private sector, as earlier the country was relying on Chinese Sinopharm vaccine, which is being donated to the Government of Pakistan by the Chinese authorities to vaccinate its frontline healthcare workers and elderly population.

The Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan, (DRAP) had granted emergency use authorization to the Russian vaccine, Gam-Covid-Vac or Sputnik-V, in the last week of January 2021 to be used in Pakistan while the registration board of the DRAP had also declared the Russian vaccine suitable for administration to the elderly population following the recommendations of a committee of experts. The officials of the private pharmaceutical firm, which imported the vaccine privately, said they have initially procured 50,000 doses of the vaccine that could be used to vaccinate 25,000 adults, while around 150,000 more doses of the vaccine were expected to reach Pakistan by the end of current week.

“This vaccine will be administered through hospitals and institutions that are authorised by the government as Covid-19 vaccination centers," an official of the firm said, adding that during the next few days, the vaccine would be supplied to hospitals and institutions, having approval from the government.

On the other hand, officials at the DRAP said, although, the private firm had imported the vaccine to the country but it could not sell it to hospitals and institutions unless the government fixes the price of the vaccine, which could take a few days or even some weeks. “Earlier, the government had allowed the private sector to import and sell the Covid-19 vaccine on the price of their choice but recently, the federal government revoked its earlier policy and decided to fix the price itself. Now, the pricing board of the DRAP would fix the price and send to the cabinet for approval and after approval, the private firm could sell the products locally”, an official of the DRAP told ‘The News’ on condition of anonymity.

To a query, the official said till the price of the vaccine is fixed by the government, the Covid-19 vaccines would remain stored at the cold storage. It is worth mentioning that Sindh Minister for Health, Dr Azra Pechuho, had told journalists in Karachi that the Russians had quoted $26 to $28 for the two doses of vaccine to the Sindh government, when they had approached them to procure it for vaccinating people in Sindh on the expense of the provincial government.