Islamabad: Pakistan is expecting the first shipment of the COVID-19 vaccine by the end of this month, said Parliamentary Secretary for Ministry of National Health Services Dr Nausheen Hamid.
She did not specify which vaccine the country will receive. It is, however, believed that this would be a shipment of the Sinopharm vaccine from China.
Dr Hamid added that the government is preparing a database of frontline health workers, according to Radio Pakistan. They will be vaccinated for free in the first phase.
Federal Minister for Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhry said on December 31 that the cabinet committee had decided to buy the COVID-19 vaccine from Chinese company Sinopharm.
“Initially, 1.2 million doses will be purchased from Sinopharm,” the federal science minister said on Twitter.
Earlier, the Sindh government had announced that the COVID-19 vaccine would arrive in Pakistan in mid-January. On Tuesday, however, the provincial government said that the federal government had hinted at a delay. The same day, the cabinet relaxed procurement rules for the COVID-19 vaccine.
In Sindh, Provincial Health Minister Dr Azra Pechuho has directed the vaccine coordination cell and officials to ensure smooth supply once inoculation starts at the Karachi Expo Centre. Phase 3 trials of the Sinopharm coronavirus vaccine found it was 79% effective.
“The protective effect of the (Sinopharm CNBG Beijing) vaccine against COVID-19 is 79.34%,” said the Beijing Institute of Biological Products, a Sinopharm subsidiary that has been developing a vaccine with CNBG.
More than one million people have already taken unapproved jabs in China under its emergency use programme.