Monday Jan 18, 2021
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Monday authorised emergency use of Chinese firm Sinopharm's anti-coronavirus vaccine as the country grapples with a second wave of infections.
The decision was taken by the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP) after meetings held between January 14 and 18 during which the authority reviewed vaccine results submitted by the National Institute of Health (NIH), sources told Geo News.
This approval allows federal and provincial governments as well as the private sector to import the vaccine from China. In December 2020, Federal Minister for Science and Technology Chaudhry Fawad Hussain had said Pakistan will purchase 1.2 million COVID-19 vaccine doses from China’s Sinopharm.
It may be noted here that the federal government set aside $150 million to procure vaccine late last year.
The anti-coronavirus vaccine is developed by a Sinopharm subsidiary called China National Biotec Group (CNBG). On December 30 last year, Sinopharm announced that phase-III trials showed the COVID-19 vaccine was 79% effective.
But the United Arab Emirates, which approved the the vaccine for emergency use in December, said interim results of Phase-III trials showed 86% it was effective.
The vaccine has also been approved for use in China, Jordan, Egypt, Bahrain, and Serbia.
This is the second vaccine approved for emergency use in Pakistan. Last Friday, DRAP green-lighted use of AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine. Pakistan is currently running phase-III clinical trials for CanSino Biologics’ vaccine candidate, Ad5-nCoV, led by the government-run National Institute of Health.
The country's COVID-19 case tally surged to 521,211 on Monday with over 1,900 new infections reported in 24 hours. Pakistan has witnessed 48.8 deaths on average every day due to coronavirus since the start of January 2021 with hospital intensive care units nearing capacity across the country.