Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine not suitable for Pakistan: Dr Atta-ur-Rehman

ISLAMABAD: Chairman of Prime Minister’s Task Force on Science and Technology Atta-ur-Rahman has claimed that the Pfizer vaccine being hailed worldwide is not suitable for Pakistan.

According to Dr Atta-ur-Rahman, in his opinion, the vaccine is not suitable for Pakistan. The former head of the HEC warned that it was too early to celebrate the news regarding the vaccine, and they should focus on the vaccines that are already being developed and have seen similar results.

The renowned scientist said he was cautious because he believes that the vaccine has “five problems” to deal with right now. The first problem is that the US Food and Drug Authority (FDA) has not given the approval and the regulatory bodies have to approve will take two months, he said.

He added that the regulatory bodies will have to see the results first then allow the company to move on to the next stage of the vaccine finalisation process. The other problem that the scientist highlighted was that the vaccine needs to be kept at a temperature of -80 °C, which in his view was a major problem for third-world countries including Pakistan.

He said that the developing countries do not have the “cold chain” that will allow them to transport the vaccine in such extreme temperatures from the point of origin to the hospitals. He said that giving two doses of the vaccine also makes it difficult to rely on the vaccine.

The third problem is that one does not know how many days it is effective, said Dr Rehman. The other two problems shared by the doctor were large-scale production and the price of the vaccine.

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Dr Rehman said that there are eleven other vaccines apart from Pfizer are in phase 3 clinical trials. He said Pakistan is administering trials of two Chinese vaccines and showing positive results.

A Chinese vaccine by Sinopharm is also in phase 3 clinical trials and has seen good results in multiple countries but has not been highlighted like Pfizer. The company has also committed to giving the vaccine to Pakistan at reasonable rates.

He explained that Chinese vaccines can also be transported in normal temperatures do not have to be kept at -80°C degrees which makes it better suited for Pakistan and third world countries.

Pfizer/BioNTech has revealed that it is 90 percent effective after large-scale trials of a coronavirus vaccine. The study showed that people who received two doses as part of the trial saw 90 percent fewer symptomatic cases of COVID-19 than participants who were given a placebo.

The study focused on 94 participants out of the total number of 43,000 people. The participants were offered the two-dose vaccine and 28 days after they received their first inoculation and remained protected. Pfizer expects to produce 50 million vaccine doses in 2020 and up to 1.3 billion doses by 2021.