Saturday Apr 17, 2021
KARACHI: As many as 10,000 doses of the CanSinoBio coronavirus vaccine developed by China are lying useless at a warehouse in Karachi for the last 10 days as the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan awaits approval to release the vaccines.
The single-dose Convidecia vaccine was imported by private company AJM Limited in Pakistan.
“This shipment was to be supplied to three hospitals in the country, but it has not yet been released by the DRAP due to red-tapism,” an official of the National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination was quoted as saying by The News.
Pakistan had granted emergency use authorisation to China’s CanSino Biologics Inc’s COVID-19 vaccine in February, 2021 following its successful trials at various health facilities in Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad.
The federal government also purchased 60,000 doses of the Chinese vaccine last month, which are currently being used to inoculate the elderly and disabled.
So far, Pakistan has vaccinated 1.4 million of its population - mostly with China’s Sinopharm vaccine - while 20,000 people have so far been inoculated with privately imported Sputnik V vaccine, officials said.
They added that at least 30,000 people have also been given CanSino’s Convidecia vaccine at the government's adult vaccination centres.
The National Health Services official blamed DRAP for the delay in release of the coronavirus vaccine consignment and said it did the same when 50,000 doses of Russian vaccine Sputnik V arrived in the country and remained in cold storage for over a month due to controversy over its pricing.
“As it (COVID-19 vaccine) is a biological product, it needs testing and approval by the technical director of the DRAP. There are some other documentary requirements, which must be met for the release of biological products but COVID-19 is an emergency and vaccine should not be kept even for an hour as it can result in loss of precious lives,” the official said.
An official of the AJM Pharma Private Limited confirmed that the first shipment of 10,000 doses of China’s Convidecia vaccine had arrived at Karachi airport in the first week of April, 2021 but since then, it had not been released to them for its supply to hospitals in Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad.
“CanSino Biologics Inc’s single dose is the most suitable vaccine for Pakistan as its trials were held in three major cities of Pakistan where over 15,000 people were recruited for these trials. At a time when Pakistan desperately need this vaccine, holding 10,000 doses of this precious shipment is unfortunate,” the AJM official said.
The vaccines were to be supplied to Aga Khan University Hospital, Karachi, Shaukat Khanum Hospital in Lahore and Shifa International Hospital, Islamabad.