Friday Jan 15 2021

How soon will coronavirus vaccine be available in Pakistan?

  • WHO COVAX Facility guarantees 2 billion doses of approved vaccine
  • 20% of the population to be covered by the end 2021
  • Health, social workers to be vaccinated in first phase

By the beginning of 2021, many countries have rolled out coronavirus vaccine programmes to contain the mutating virus.

But in Pakistan, the federal government is yet to place orders for the vaccine, leaving the citizens to rely on the World Health Organization’s (WHO) COVAX initiative that ensures “rapid and equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines for all countries, regardless of income level”.

Of the 190 participating economies, Pakistan is among the 92 that qualify for the financial mechanism Gavi COVAX AMS. The facility guarantees access to 2 billion doses of approved vaccines.

Report: Pakistan hasn't placed any orders for coronavirus vaccine yet

Here is how soon the COVID-19 vaccine will be available to citizens in Pakistan under COVAX.

Phase I: The first tranche of doses would be enough to protect health and social care workers and will be delivered in the first quarter of 2021.

Phase II: The second tranche would be in the second half of the year, aiming to vaccinate 20% of the population by year-end.

Phase II: Additional doses to reach higher coverage will be available in 2022.

Which vaccines are under the programme?

The Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) has invested in 10 vaccines – nine of these are still in development and seven in clinical trial phases.

1. AstraZeneca/ University of Oxford (Phase 3)

2. Clover Biopharmaceuticals, China (Phase 1)

3. CureVac, Germany (Phase 2B/3)

4. Inovio, USA (Phase 2)

5. Institut Pasteur/Merck/Themis, France/USA/Austria (Phase 1)

6. Moderna, USA (Phase 3)

7. Novavax, USA (Phase 3)

8. SK bioscience, South Korea (Preclinical)

9. University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong (Preclinical)

10. University of Queensland/ CSL, Australia (Phase 1, programme discontinued)

Related: Pakistan records biggest jump in coronavirus cases in nearly a month

How many doses?

COVAX has secured 170 million doses of the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine through the advance purchase agreement, and another 200 million doses under an agreement between Gavi and Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

500 million doses of the Janssen vaccine and 200 million doses of the Sanofi/GSK vaccine have also been secured.

“First right of refusal for a potential combined total of over 1 billion doses in 2021 (based on current estimates from the manufacturing processes under development) of promising vaccine candidates, via R&D partnership agreements with CEPI - that will be produced, subject to technical success and regulatory approval, by candidates in the COVAX R&D Portfolio,” the WHO said in a statement.