The government intends to address the health challenges of Covid-19 through herd immunity and donated vaccines as there are no plans to buy vaccines at least this year.
This was conveyed by the Secretary of the National Health Service (NHS) Amir Ashraf Hawaja while giving a briefing to the Public Account Committee (PAC), Thursday.
According to the National Institute of Health Executive Director Major General Aamir Aamer Ikram, the cost of a single dose of China’s CanSino vaccine is $ 13.
The NHS secretary told PAC that Chinese pharmaceutical company Sinopharm had committed to delivering 1 million doses of the Covid-19 vaccine. And also, said 0.5 million doses have sent to Pakistan. Hence, about 275,000 doses given to healthcare providers are Covid-19. So currently there is no need to buy vaccines.
Furthermore, he said the second phase would include health workers working in hospitals and other health facilities. Also, adding that people over the age of 65 can also register for vaccinations by texting 1166.
He said Pakistan plans to vaccinate 70 million people this year.
Pakistan will also receive 16 million free doses of the Covid-19 vaccine from Oxford-AstraZeneca, which is produced in India. Via Gavi and will cover 20% of Pakistan’s population, according to the NHS secretary.
The Global Alliance for Vaccines and Vaccinations (Gavi) is a public-private global health partnership to increase access to vaccinations in poor countries.
PAC President Rana Tanvir Hussein asked the NHS secretary if they would wait for the free vaccine.
Mr. Khawaja replied, “We wouldn’t need to purchase much“.
When asked by the PAC chair, the secretary replied that Pakistan would receive the first batch of AstraZeneca vaccine. Produced by the Serum Institute in India in mid-March, with the rest expected to arrive in the country in June.
According to him, vaccination for the elderly should start on March 5; however, the delivery was delayed.
He said another Chinese company was conducting a phase 3 study of the CanSino vaccine in Pakistan. As many as 18,000 people have been vaccinated and the vaccine has an effectiveness of 85.
According to the NHS secretary, the department conducted a survey in June 2020 to reveal data on those who developed antibodies to the coronavirus. He said the study found that about 15 of the population had developed antibodies that did not need to be immunized.
The PAC chair noted that some people had doubts about the side effects of the vaccine. And suggested vaccinating the top leadership of the country first to clear doubts in the minds of the public.
When asked by Hina Rabbani Har, the NHS secretary replied that despite the private government’s proposal to purchase the vaccine. No serious buyer had yet emerged.
The private sector has also received permission from the government to meet the needs of people who can afford the vaccine.
According to him, the Pakistan Drug Administration has only received applications from three vaccine importing companies. But their applications were rejected because they did not provide details and specifications for the vaccines to be imported.