Pakistan on Tuesday said it will import China’s CanSino COVID-19 vaccine in bulk to package three million doses locally.
“We will be getting the bulk vaccine by mid-April from CanSino from which 3 million vaccine doses can be made,” tweeted Federal Minister for Planning Asad Umar, who leads the country’s anti-virus strategy. “The bulk vaccine received will be formulated, sterilized and packed in Pakistan.”
For this purpose, he added, special equipment has been procured and manpower is being trained.
Pakistan had participated in phase 3 trials of the single-dose vaccine, which has an efficacy rate of 65.7% at preventing symptomatic cases.
The consignment will be in addition to over a million doses of Sinopharm and CanSino vaccines, which Islamabad is set to receive in two batches this week.
The two are among the four vaccines approved by the country’s drug regulatory authority. The other two are Russia’s Sputnik-V and Oxford-AstraZeneca.
The bulk procurement follows reports that Pakistan’s already sluggish vaccination campaign is likely to take a further hit following a delay in the supply of 17 million doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine being provided by the World Health Organization-led COVAX program for developing countries.
The promised vaccines were scheduled to be received by the end of March. But India’s Serum Institute, which is supplying the doses to the world health body, has diverted supplies to meet domestic requirements.
Pakistan is currently vaccinating frontline health care workers and senior citizens using doses of the Sinopharm vaccine donated by China.
The country has recorded 14,356 COVID-19 deaths and 663,200 infections since the pandemic began.