The coronavirus vaccine will be available in Pakistan in the next two months, says Prime Minister Imran Khan’s National Task Force on Science and Technology Chairperson Dr Atta-ur-Rehman.
Dr Rehman said on Monday that the richer and bigger countries have already paid for the COVID-19 vaccine. “It will take time for smaller countries to procure the vaccine,” he said, adding that Pakistan will have to try hard itself to procure it.
The scientist explained that dispensing the vaccine will be a lengthy procedure because of the country’s population.
Earlier this month, the federal cabinet approved a $150 million grant to procure the coronavirus vaccine. Federal Minister for Planning and Development and National Command and Operations Centre (NCOC) chief Asad Umar has said that a task force, led by Special Assistant to PM on National Health Services Dr Faisal Sultan, had finalised recommendations for the procurement.
Scores of volunteers from across Pakistan flocked to research hospitals over the past few days to join the final-stage clinical trials of a Chinese-made vaccine for coronavirus — marking the first time the country has participated in such a trial.
The coronavirus vaccine is being developed by CanSinoBio and the Beijing Institute of Biotechnology China as multiple Western pharmaceutical companies issued a string of positive vaccine announcements this month.
A spokesperson for Pfizer Asia Pacific told Geo.tv that the company was in talks with Pakistan’s health ministry for the procurement of the Pfizer and BioNTech vaccine. It said the pharmaceutical, for now, would do government-based contracts due to heavy demand.
To overcome the extreme challenge of minus 70 degrees for Pfizer BioN Tech vaccine storage, the spokesperson shared that Pfizer has made specially designed, temperature-controlled thermal shippers, in which the doses will arrive which can be used as temporary storage units.
The shipper can maintain the recommended storage condition -70°C ± 10°C for 10 days unopened, which allows for it to be transported globally. Once opened, and if it is used as temporary storage by a vaccination centre, it can be used for a total of 30 days with re-icing every five days. Pfizer Pakistan has signed an MoU with Chughtai Labs to set up cold chains and vaccination centers in Pakistan.
Moderna’s vaccine also needs to be stored at low temperatures. However, the Chinese vaccines and the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine need normal refrigeration to store its products.
Talks are underway between Oxford Astra Zeneca and Pakistan’s health ministry officials as well and it is expected that Pakistan will also receive a sizeable quantity of approved vaccine from the global COVAX alliance at some point in the coming year.