ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has received its first purchase of 60,000 doses of a Chinese CanSino Biologics Inc’s coronavirus vaccine.
A plane carrying as many as 60,000 doses of single-dose CanSino Biologics vaccine arrived at the Islamabad International Airport on Tuesday. The shipment was supposed to arrive in Pakistan on March 26 but got delayed due to some unavoidable circumstances. The fifth batch of Sinopharm vaccine will be brought to Pakistan on a special aircraft on March 31.
Pakistan has purchased 60,000 doses of single-dose CanSino vaccine and one million doses of Sinopharm vaccine. Pakistan had asked China for one million doses of Covid-19 vaccines and has received three batches containing 1.5 million doses of Sinopharm vaccine.
Pakistan will also import more coronavirus vaccines made by China’s CanSino Biologics next month equivalent to 3 million doses.
Pakistan began a vaccination drive last month with over a million doses of Sinopharm vaccines donated by long-time ally China, but is scrambling to get more supplies as it awaits COVAX-GAVI allocations of AstraZeneca’s vaccine, which have been delayed.
“We will be getting the bulk vaccine by mid-April from CanSino, from which 3 million doses can be made,” Asad Umar said on Twitter. “The bulk vaccine received will be formulated, sterilized and packed in Pakistan,” he said.
Coronavirus infections have risen sharply in Pakistan in recent weeks and President Arif Alvi, Defence Minister Pervez Khattak and outgoing finance minister Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, tested positive for COVID-19 Prime Minister Imran Khan had tested positive last week and has fully recovered.
The Sinopharm and CanSino vaccines arriving this week are the first that Pakistan has purchased rather than being donations. Pakistan had been due to receive a first batch of up to four million doses of GAVI’s total allocation of 45 million doses earlier this month, but that was delayed with AstraZeneca’s Indian manufacturer citing domestic needs.