Saturday Jan 16, 2021
Pakistan has authorised the use of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine as the country struggles with the second wave of infections.
Talking to Geo.tv, Special Assistant to Prime Minister Imran Khan on Health Dr Faisal Sultan confirmed on Saturday that the Drug Regulatory Authority Pakistan (DRAP) has granted approval for emergency use of the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine across the country.
The authorisation comes as infections surge across Pakistan with over 34,000 cases reported in just two weeks of January. The country witnessed 48.8 deaths on average every day due to coronavirus in the past 15 days with hospital intensive care units nearing capacity.
National Command and Operations Centre (NCOC) chief Asad Umar told Geo.tv that the anti-coronavirus vaccine will be rolled out by March – the first quarter of the year. In the first phase, the vaccine will be administered to healthcare workers and those aged 65 and above.
The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine is made from a weakened version of a common cold virus, known as adenovirus, from chimpanzees and has been modified to look more like the coronavirus – although it cannot cause the illness.
When the vaccine is injected into a human body, it prompts the immune system to make antibodies and trains it to attack any coronavirus infection. Interim data showed that the vaccine’s efficacy in preventing symptomatic infections was 70.4%.
The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine is more suitable for developing countries as it can be stored in a normal fridge for six months, making it much easier to distribute. It is also cheaper to make.
The vaccine was first approved for emergency use by the United Kingdom government.