COVID-19: Pakistan yet to place orders for AstraZeneca Vaccine

Lahore, 24th January: Pakistan is yet to place orders for the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine by Oxford.

Baaghi TV: According to reports, the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP) has granted approval for the emergency use of Oxford-Astrazeneca’s coronavirus vaccine, however, it is still not clear when the immunization will be made available in Pakistan as the authorized agent of the pharmaceutical company are yet to place orders.

As per reports, the Sindh Medical Stores (SMS) was allowed to import the vaccine last week. Talking to The News, SMS official Usman Ghani said at the moment the British-Swedish company was to supply the vaccine to countries that had already booked vaccine doses and paid in advance.

He said, “We don’t know when we would be able to get hold of the first consignment of the vaccine as it has been already purchased by the several countries of the world.”

Ghani said AstraZeneca has approved the manufacture of the vaccine in Serum Institute of India in Pune for bulk production, but most of it would be used for vaccinating a large population of India before it is allowed to Pakistan.

He said, “We have excellent business relations with the Serum Institute of India, and we would try our best to procure it as early as possible.”

As per reports, the local firm will provide the vaccine at the cost of $6 to $7 (Rs 1,000 to Rs 1,200) per dose to the federal and provincial governments if acquired in bulk quantity (30 to 50 million doses).

The firm has offered Rs 2,000 to Rs 2,500 per dose to the private sector if they place orders of 10,000 or more doses.

Ghani stressed, “But it should be very clear that we would only be providing the vaccine to reputed institutions like Aga Khan University Hospital (AKUH), Shaukat Khanum hospital, and others.”

When asked about the firms that have offered to procure COVID vaccine for $13.5 to $15.5 to the Sindh government, Ghani highlighted that his company was the lone importer and authorized agents of the AstraZeneca company in Pakistan, which was not even ready to supply the vaccine directly to Pakistan.

He added, “Similarly, there are reports that we have offered to supply the vaccine in thousands of rupees per dose, which is also incorrect and misleading. We cannot supply any product without the approval of DRAP and we hope that it would approve the vaccine price, which we have demanded.”

However, no product can be sold in Pakistan without the approval of DRAP.

A DRAP official was reported saying that the DRAP’s pricing board is reviewing the requests for price approval of both the vaccine.

The DRAP official has said that both Oxford-AstraZeneca and China’s SinoPharm vaccines have been granted permission for the emergency. If any Adverse Effect Following Immunization (AEFI) was observed, the grant for emergency usage could be withdrawn immediately.

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