Cabinet to green light procurement of Covid-19 vaccines today   | Pakistan Today

Cabinet to green light procurement of Covid-19 vaccines today  

–Clinical trial of Chinese vaccine produces positive results in Pakistan

–Pakistan to keep all options on table to procure Covid-19 vaccines

ISLAMABAD: The federal cabinet is all set to approve recommendations made by the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) for procurement of novel Covid-19 vaccines.

It is likely that at least two Covid-19 vaccines will be registered globally by next month. The NCOC on Monday had finalised its recommendations for the procurement of the vaccine against the deadly disease and forwarded the same to federal cabinet for approval.

Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar took to Twitter to make the announcement on Monday.

“NCOC today finalised its recommendations for procurement of Covid vaccine. These will be presented to the cabinet tomorrow for approval. The task force of experts headed by SAPM health Dr Faisal Sultan had developed the recommendations which were discussed and finalised today,” he said.

The recommendations will be presented before the federal cabinet during its meeting scheduled on Tuesday, and approval will be sought to obtain the vaccine as quickly as possible.

An official in the Ministry of National Health Services who wishes to remain anonymous told Pakistan Today that Pakistan plans to procure vaccines from all friendly countries so as to mitigate the pandemic that was not proving threatening lives of thousands.

He said that other than the vaccines developed by Pfizer and Astra Zeneca, Pakistan would also seek support from its friends like China and Russia.

“We are closely monitoring the tests being conducted and almost all the vaccines are proving beneficial with some variants. We will try to procure good and quality vaccines to help save our people,” the official said.

It may be pertinent to mention here that Prime Minister Imran Khan had already approved allocation of US $100 million for advance payment for procurement of the vaccine at the earliest.

CHINESE, RUSSIAN VACCINES PROVING VIABLE:

When asked about the tests of the Chinese vaccine being conducted in Pakistan, the official said that the tests had proven the effectiveness of the vaccine.

“The Chinese vaccine has produced very positive results and we have done its clinical trials. There is not much difference between American, Chinese, British and Russian vaccines. All vaccines would have almost the same impact,” the official said.

The official added that since Pakistan has to cater to the needs of a large population, it would use all its options.

“We will keep all options on the table. We would have lots of requirements due to our mass population. We would have to acquire the vaccine from various options we have,” he said.

When asked about Russian vaccine, the official said that the Russian vaccine can also be utilised, provided the Russians have capacity.

“Russia may provide vaccines first to its allies. But since we also have very friendly relations with Russia, we are eager to acquire the Russian vaccine too,” the official added.

Another official at the ministry said that different options were being discussed for the last four months.

However, the official said, the procurement process was derailed every time due to different reasons such as [possible] side effects of the vaccines, which vaccine would be available earlier etc., so different options were being considered and reviewed at the same time.

“It is expected that at least two vaccines will be registered […] in December 2020,” the official said.

The official said that the proposals will be discussed with the federal cabinet and after getting its approval steps will be taken for vaccine procurement.

Replying to a question, the official said that the shelf price of Pfizer’s vaccine stands at US$20. “Since two shots of the vaccine will be provided to each person so it will cost $40 to vaccinate each person. The vaccine of AstraZeneca would be cheaper, and it will be available for $4 per dose. So, $8 will be required to vaccinate one person,” the official said.

The official asserted that the price being discussed was the shelf price of the vaccine and it can be negotiated.

“The price depends on the quantity we want and available stock. I believe the price can be reduced if we order at the earliest or if we let others purchase fist and stand at the end of the queue,” the official concluded.

Mian Abrar

The writer heads Pakistan Today's Islamabad Bureau. He has a special focus on counter-terrorism and inter-state relations in Asia, Asia Pacific and South East Asia regions. He can be reached at [email protected]



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