Friday Apr 09 2021

Coronavirus: Pakistan okays emergency use of third Chinese vaccine

A health worker receives a dose of Sinopharm's COVID-19  vaccine at a vaccination centre in Karachi, February 8, 2021. — Reuters/File
  • DRAP has approved the emergency use of another Chinese vaccine, CoronaVac.
  • This would be the fifth coronavirus vaccine and the third Chinese vaccine to be used in Pakistan.
  • UK's AstraZeneca and Russian Sputnik V vaccines have also been given Emergency Use Authorisation in Pakistan. 

KARACHI: Amid the intensifying third COVID-19 wave, the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP) has granted Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) to another Chinese vaccine, CoronaVac, officials told The News on Thursday.

This would be the fifth coronavirus vaccine and the third Chinese vaccine to be used in Pakistan.

Earlier, Pakistan had granted the EUA to China’s two-dose Sinopharm and single-dose Convidecia vaccine developed by the Cansino Biologicals Inc. UK’s AstraZeneca and Russian Sputnik V vaccines have also been approved by the DRAP.

According to the report, the CoronaVac vaccine, despite its low efficacy rate was allowed by the health authorities to counter the third wave of the pandemic in Pakistan.

In this regard, an official of the Drug Regulatory Authority said: “DRAP’s registration board in its 304th meeting on Thursday gave Emergency Use Authorisation (EUA) to CoronaVac vaccine, developed by the Sinovac Life Sciences Company Ltd., based in Beijing, China."

Read more: Coronavirus vaccination centres in Pakistan to remain closed on Fridays

Which vaccines are being used currently

Two Chinese and one Russian vaccine are being used in the public and private sectors, officials said.

Pakistan is expecting the AstraZeneca vaccine under the COVAX programme but due to supply constraints, the country has not received its share of doses as yet.

The DRAP official further said an expert committee had recommended emergency use authorisation for the CoronaVac vaccine, although its data was not published and overall efficacy was around 56%.

“But in Turkey and Indonesia, the efficacy of CoronaVac has been found to be 91.25% and 85.3% respectively. Besides, it is already being used in China, Turkey, Indonesia, Brazil, and some Middle Eastern countries," the DRAP official added. 

'We desperately need vaccines in Pakistan'

The DRAP official further said that the company provided its safety and efficacy data to the expert committee and on its recommendations, the approval was given.

"The DRAP’s registration board allowed the vaccine as we desperately need vaccines in Pakistan," the official asserted.

The CoronaVac is a traditional vaccine, which can be stored at 2-8°C, which makes it ideal for countries like Pakistan where they don’t have ultra cold chain refrigerators.

Moreover, phase III clinical trials of a triple-dose Chinese vaccine, developed by the Anhui Zhifei Longcom Biopharmaceutical Company Ltd, are also underway in Lahore, Faisalabad, and other cities of Pakistan.