Pakistan to receive first batch of Sinopharm vaccine by early Feb

A healthcare worker getting ready to administer a vaccine to a patient. — AFP

ISLAMABAD: Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination Dr Faisal Sultan on Tuesday said Pakistan is hopeful it will receive the first batch of the COVID-19 vaccine from China’s Sinopharm in “early February”.

Pakistan said last month it would purchase 1.2 million COVID-19 vaccine doses from Sinopharm in the first official confirmation of a vaccine purchase as the country battles a second wave of infections.

“We hope to be able to get vaccine doses from Sinopharm in the first quarter of this year, hopefully starting in early February,” Dr Sultan said in an interview with Arab News, adding that the government aims to begin the process of vaccination within the first quarter of this year.

“We are hoping to deploy the vaccine within the first quarter. The 1.1 million doses are just the first phase,” he said.

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Sultan said the government was looking at “multiple options” and was in touch with all companies whose vaccines had been approved internationally.

The National Command and Operation Center (NCOC) on Sunday started registering frontline health care workers who will be vaccinated in the first phase.

“This is the first batch of 1.2 million doses for health workers; there will be more orders which will be used for the public in phases,” said Dr Atta-ur-Rahman, chairman of the COVID-19 task force.

Vaccination for general public

Both the government and private sector companies would bring vaccines into Pakistan but the private sector have to get their vaccines registered with the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP), said Dr Rahman.

“DRAP will check and have control on both the quality and price of the vaccine from the private companies,” he added.

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Dr Rahman said that the general public would be vaccinated between June and September this year.

“Pakistan is considering getting the vaccines from all the companies whose vaccines have been approved internationally,” he said.