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Pakistan launches locally-developed coronavirus vaccine ‘PakVac’

ISLAMABAD: Day after the government decided to run a massive COVID vaccination drive, Pakistan successfully launched on Tuesday a locally developed coronavirus vaccine PakVac in collaboration with China’s Cansino Bio.

Special Assistant to Prime Minister on National Health Services Dr. Faisal Sultan while addressing the launching ceremony said the PakVac vaccine has been manufactured by the Ministry of Health with the help of China’s Cansino Bio after rigorous quality control checks.

The Ministry of Health had initially ordered the Health Department to prepare three million doses of PakVac, he added. The minister said the PakVac vaccine has been developed by China’s state-run pharmaceutical company Cansino and is being brought to Pakistan in a concentrated form, where it is packaged at the National Institute of Health in Islamabad.

Cansino was the first Chinese vaccine to have undergone clinical trial in Pakistan and was administered to around 18,000 people, he added.

Dr. Faisal further said the vaccine has been prepared after rigorous quality control checks, having met the World Health Organisation’s standards, adding that that the country will soon be able to start the production of the vaccine.

He lauded the National Institute of Health (NIH) for developing the vaccine, mentioning that “Developing the vaccine from raw materials is not an easy task. We are proud of the people that developed the vaccine at the NIH,” he appreciated.

Meanwhile, Federal Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar termed the development an important one for Pakistan. “Only nations that focus on increasing their knowledge and have the capacity to translate that knowledge equation into technological progress,” Umar said while addressing the ceremony.

The minister said that Pakistanis actually preferred the Chinese-manufactured vaccines over those manufactured in Western countries, adding that people actually asked for the Chinese vaccines to be administered to them when they came to vaccination centres.

He congratulated the health teams in Pakistan, along with their Chinese partners who assisted in setting up the vaccine packaging process. Umar said that a country in the region had suffered greatly due to a dearth of oxygen, adding that good decisions required an assessment of one’s capacity.

Asad Umar said, “In the first wave of coronavirus that Pakistan faced, patients who required oxygen were facing difficulties but the situation was brought under control [by the time] the third wave hit us.”

He said, “We then tried to bring about improvements in the system and launched a Covid response mechanism which is unprecedented in the country. Moreover, health projects worth Rs100 billion are being launched to address issues in the sector.”

Expressing his gratitude to the Chinese authorities, the federal minister said that “we also take inspiration from China and our prime minister also gives their example again and again. It is heartwarming the way China has supported us, as always.”

Chinese Ambassador Nong Rong, in his address, stated that the vaccine’s production is an example of the friendship between the two countries, adding that Pakistan is the first country to accept the Chinese vaccine as a gift when the pandemic began.

Pakistan started its inoculation drive in February with vaccine assistance from China. Initially, the campaign covered frontline healthcare workers and eventually expanded to senior citizens in the second phase.

Pakistan has decided to open vaccination for people aged 18 and above from June 3, paving way for all eligible age groups to get inoculated. Meanwhile, walk-in vaccination for people aged 30 and above is underway.

Since the beginning of the immunization drive, more than 7 million people have been vaccinated in Pakistan against Covid-19. Pakistan has so far approved Sinopharm, Cansino, Sinovac, Sputnik and AstraZeneca.