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‘Talks underway to get Moderna's mRNA 1273 vaccine through COVAX’

Pakistan is likely to get an unspecified number of Moderna’s mRNA COVID-19 vaccine doses through COVAX in the coming months

June 25, 2021
File photo
File photo

KARACHI: Pakistan is likely to get an unspecified number of Moderna’s mRNA COVID-19 vaccine doses through COVAX in the coming months, officials in the National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination (NHS,R&C) said on Thursday.

Talking to The News, officials in the National Health Services confirmed that talks were underway with COVAX for acquiring Moderna’s mRNA Covid-19 vaccine, codenamed mRNA 1273, but added that so far they have no confirmation as to when and how much doses of the double dose vaccine could be provided to Pakistan.

Pakistan has so far received 100,600 doses of Pfizer-BioNTech’s mRNA vaccine through COVAX, to inoculate immunosuppressant people, while an agreement has also been reached between government and Pfizer-BioNTech for supply of 13 million more doses of mRNA vaccine by end of the current year. Officials said if Moderna’s mRNA vaccine is made available through COVAX, it would be a valuable addition to the existing Chinese, and European vaccines to inoculate the adult population. They however clarified that a huge number of doses are not expected to be supplied by COVAX. To a query, they clarified that provision of Moderna's mRNA vaccine has nothing to do with telephonic conversation with Prime Minister Imran Khan and Bill Gates.

In that context, the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP) was approached for opinion on Moderna’s vaccine, which is yet to grant Emergency Use Authorization. The officials at DRAP said they have conveyed legal requirements for import of vaccines.

“If a vaccine is allowed for emergency use by the USFood and Drug Administration (FDA) and European Medicine Agency (EMA), then there is no need for Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) from DRAP,” an official of the drug regulatory authority said. 

The official, however, maintained that if Moderna or any of its agents wish to get the vaccine registered in Pakistan, they could apply for the Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) with DRAP as done by the Chinese, US and other European vaccine manufacturers. Pakistan has so far granted emergency use authorization to six different vaccines, including China’s Cansino, Sinopharm, Sinovac, Russian Sputnik V, European AstraZeneca and US Pfizer vaccines.