Wednesday December 07, 2022

Pakistan to procure 1m doses of mRNA vaccine from Pfizer: officials

Pakistan is in the advanced stages of procuring at least one million doses of Pfizer-BioNTech’s Covid-19 mRNA vaccine

May 31, 2021
Vial of Pfizer vaccine. File photo

KARACHI: Pakistan is in the advanced stages of procuring at least one million doses of Pfizer-BioNTech’s Covid-19 mRNA vaccine through a ‘bilateral agreement’ directly from the manufacturer and the first shipment of the vaccine can either be delivered in July or August this year to Islamabad, officials said on Friday.

“We were in negotiations for last few months (with Pfizer) to procure their mRNA vaccine but they have just confirmed its availability for Pakistan. Now a bilateral agreement between Pfizer and the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) is in process,” an official of the National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination (NHS, R&C) told The News.

Officials at the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP) also confirmed that Pfizer has applied for the Emergency Use Authorization for its mRNA vaccine and currently an expert committee is reviewing the safety and efficacy data of the Covid-19 vaccine.

Special Assistant to the Prime Minister (SAPM) on Health Dr Faisal Sultan also confirmed that they were in talks with the Pfizer to procure the vaccine through a bilateral agreement but added that the deal was not final yet.

Pakistan received the first shipment comprising 106,000 doses of Pfizer’s mRNA vaccine through COVAX on Friday, officials at the Expanded Programme on Immunization (EPI) in Islamabad confirmed and said shipments of diluents and syringes also reached Islamabad.

At least 23 Ultra Cold Chain (UCC) Refrigerators have already been installed throughout Pakistan to store the mRNA vaccine, the NHS official said, adding that the mRNA vaccine can now be stored all over the country and administered to people.

The official said they would utilise the mRNA vaccine to inoculate ‘Immuno-compromised’ population as they can’t be given various Chinese and European vaccines, which are not indicated for transplant patients, people living with HIV and others.

On the other hand, Pfizer officials also confirmed that they were in negotiations with Pakistan for the provision of mRNA vaccine through a bilateral agreement, adding Pakistan initially wants one million doses of the vaccine, which can be delivered to Islamabad in June or July, 2021.

They said Pakistan had approached Pfizer for the procurement of mRNA vaccine for its immune-compromised population but due to its unavailability no commitment was made but now the production has enhanced, they were ready to provide the required doses to Islamabad.