Thursday, March 18, 2021
KARACHI: Pakistan received Wednesday night the first shipment of privately-imported Russian COVID-19 vaccine, Gam-COVID-Vac or Sputnik V, at the Jinnah International Airport in Karachi.
For now, 50,000 doses of the Sputnik coronavirus vaccine have arrived in Karachi. Health department officials said the vaccine will be given to major hospitals and medical institutions.
"From now onwards, shipments of this highly effective COVID-19 vaccine will be delivered to Pakistan at regular intervals and help the country fight the pandemic,” a Russian trade representative in Karachi, Ruslan Aliev, was quoted as saying by The News.
Aliev handed over the the shipment to the private firm.
The double-dose Sputnik V has become the first COVID-19 vaccine now available in Pakistan in the private sector as earlier the country was relying on the Chinese Sinopharm vaccine, which is being donated to the Pakistan government by Chinese authorities to vaccinate its frontline healthcare workers and elderly population.
Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP) had granted emergency use authorisation to the Russian COVID-19 vaccine in the last week of January, 2021.
The DRAP registration board declared the Russian coronavirus vaccine suitable for administration to the elderly population, following recommendations of a committee of experts last week.
Officials of the private firm importing the Sputnik vaccine said they have initially procured 50,000 doses which can vaccinate 25,000 adults. Around 150,000 more doses of the vaccine are expected to reach Pakistan by the end of this week.
The private firm cannot sell the Sputnik vaccine to hospitals and institutions yet. DRAP officials said they have to wait for the government to fix the price of the vaccine, which could take a few days or even some weeks.
“Earlier the government had allowed the private sector to import and sell the COVID-19 vaccine on the price of their choice but recently, the federal government revoked its earlier policy and decided to fix the price itself," a DRAP official said.
He said the DRAP pricing board will fix the price and send it to the cabinet for approval. After this, the private sector will be able to sell the vaccine.
Sindh Health Minister Dr Azra Pechuho had said Russians had quoted $26-$28 for two doses of the Sputnik vaccine to the Sindh government.