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AstraZeneca vaccine approved for emergency use in Pakistan

The Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (Drap) on Saturday authorised the Oxford University-AstraZeneca vaccine shot for emergency use in Pakistan, making it the first vaccine get local approval, reported.

“Drap granted emergency use authorisation to AstraZeneca’s Covid vaccine,” Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Healh Dr Faisal Sultan told Reuters.

The country has also pre-booked more than a million doses of Sinopharm’s vaccine from China, Sultan said, adding that the Sinopharm vaccine is awaiting approval from Drap, which has received and reviewed its data. 

“We are in the process to obtain Western origin and other vaccines both via bilateral purchase agreements as well as via the Covax facility,” he said.

Pakistan is speaking to a number of vaccine makers, and Sultan said the country could get “in the range of tens of millions” of vaccine doses under an agreement with China’s CanSinoBio.

The vaccine company’s Ad5-nCoV Covid-19 candidate is nearing completion of Phase III clinical trials in Pakistan.

Efficacy is a key factor, said Sultan. “We have and are watching the evolving stories around efficacy of a number of vaccines.” Sultan said preliminary results of the Cansino vaccine may come in by mid-February. He added that Pakistan was considering to engage with Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine.

Pakistan reported 2,432 new coronavirus infections and 45 deaths on Friday, taking the total number of cases to more than 516,000 and deaths close to 11,000.

“Our aim is that the bulk of the population will be covered free,” the PM’s aide said, adding that private sectors could also be allowed once supply was available to an authorised company.

Sultan added that Pakistan had adequate cold chain facilities for most kinds of vaccines.

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