Thursday Apr 01 2021

Sputnik V vaccine cleared by court for sale in Pakistan

  • Court says halting availability of vaccines when the country is in the grip of the third wave is not feasible.
  • Despite allowing the sale of the vaccine, court says proceedings against its price would continue.
  • Company's lawyer assures court it would voluntarily provide details about market price of the vaccine.

Sindh High Court (SHC) on Thursday permitted the private company that has imported Russia's Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine to begin selling it — as the country battles an intensifying third coronavirus wave.

The decision came during the hearing of an appeal by the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP) against the release of the Sputnik V vaccine.

The company's lawyer told the court the government had set the tariff on coronavirus vaccines after his client had already imported the vaccine, therefore, it does not apply to the company's imported vaccine.

The private company's lawyer assured the court it would voluntarily provide details about the market price of the vaccine.

The court remarked that everyone must be on board to fight the pandemic.

"At this stage, it is against the public interest to stop the sale of [the] coronavirus vaccine ... stopping [availability of] vaccines is not suitable."

The court, while allowing the sale of the vaccine, said the hearing on the petition filed regarding the price of the vaccine would continue.

It is pertinent to mention here that according to the company's formula, the rate of two doses of Sputnik V vaccine must be fixed at Rs12,268.

A day earlier, the government of Pakistan was ordered by the SHC to fix the price of Sputnik V within the next seven days.

SHC Justice Amjad Ali Sahito remarked that whoever wishes to import the coronavirus vaccine should do so once the rates are fixed.

DRAP's legal counsel told the court that a restraining order had been issued regarding Sputnik V's rates. 

"It's a matter of public interest and the price is yet to be fixed," the lawyer said.

In response, SHC's Justice Muhammad Ali Mazhar said the vaccine could not be sold in the market until the drug inspector approves it with their signature. 

"I understand that it's a matter of public interest but go to the concerned judge," Justice Mazhar added.