China’s Sinopharm ties up with Karachi University to supply coronavirus vaccines to Pakistan

Workers are seen inside the Beijing Applied Biological Technologies (XABT) research and development laboratory in Beijing on May 14, 2020. (AFP)
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Updated 14 August 2020

China’s Sinopharm ties up with Karachi University to supply coronavirus vaccines to Pakistan

  • Pakistan would conduct Phase 1 trials and then move rapidly to the final-stage Phase 3 trial, which requires tens of thousands of volunteers
  • Pakistan would receive enough vaccine to cover around a fifth of its population in the initial months of production

ISLAMABAD: State-owned China National Pharmaceutical Group, also known as Sinopharm, has tied up with Pakistan’s Karachi University’s International Center for Chemical and Biological Sciences to supply coronavirus vaccines to Pakistan, international media has reported, quoting Pakistani government officials.
The developing world— which often lacks both a pharmaceutical industry to develop, test and produce vaccines and the money to purchase them from elsewhere— has been forced to seek supplies from allies or from international groups attempting to obtain vaccines for poor countries.
China hasn’t been a major vaccine producer globally. It needs to test its Covid-19 vaccines outside its borders, because coronavirus cases in China have dwindled and it is harder to find the population diversity required.
“Pakistan would get the vaccine on a priority basis,” an official involved in forging the agreement told the Wall Street Journal.
Pakistan would conduct Phase 1 trials of the vaccine and then move rapidly to the final-stage Phase 3 trial, which requires tens of thousands of volunteers. If the vaccine is safe and effective, Pakistan would receive enough vaccine to cover around a fifth of its population in the initial months of production, according to Pakistani officials who said financial terms hadn’t yet been worked out.
Pakistan, one of China’s closest allies in the developing world, will receive enough doses early in distribution to vaccinate the most vulnerable among its population of 220 million, including the elderly, health-care workers and people with medical conditions associated with serious cases of Covid-19, the disease caused by the virus.
About one-fifth of the country’s population could be covered by the allocation, the officials said.
The agreement, among the first China has reached as part of its efforts to test its coronavirus vaccine in populations beyond its borders, comes amid a global competition for access to vaccines that are now entering trials and expected to come to market in coming months.
Negotiations are under way with a second Chinese company to trial its vaccine in Pakistan, officials said.


Pakistan to establish 18 markets on Afghanistan, Iran borders to boost trade, curb smuggling

Updated 18 September 2020

Pakistan to establish 18 markets on Afghanistan, Iran borders to boost trade, curb smuggling

  • Under the plan, the government will set up 12 markets along the border with Afghanistan and six along the Iran frontier
  • Prime minister approves setting up two border markets in Balochistan and one in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa by February next year

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan government has decided to set up markets along its borders with neighboring Afghanistan and Iran to boost trade opportunities, foster peace and check smuggling, the commerce ministry said on Friday.
Main crossing point into Pakistan for both goods and people from Iran and Afghan also serve as major smuggling routes.
“The border markets will help create job opportunities and establish a peaceful relationship with the neighboring countries,” Aisha Humera Moriani, joint-secretary at the Ministry of Commerce, told Arab News.
Under the plan, the government is establishing 18 markets: 12 along the border with Afghanistan and six along the Iran frontier.
In a meeting on Thursday, Prime Minister Imran Khan approved setting up two border markets in Balochistan and one in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province as a pilot project, to be functional by February next year.
Moriani said the markets would contribute to local development and help the government address “smuggling and boost legal trade across the border.”
Pakistan is fencing its borders with Afghanistan and Iran to check cross-border militancy, illegal movement of people and smuggling, which is a major source of income for people living along border towns and villages.
Sardar Shoukat Popalzai, President Balochistan Economic Forum, said the government should have built “common markets” along the Afghanistan and Iran borders with the mutual consent of the neighboring governments to maximize benefits for people on both sides of the borders.
“The government has not released a feasibility report, if there is any, of these markets as to how are they going to help the local population,” he told Arab News.
Popalzai said Balochistan border areas were sparsely populated and establishment of a few shopping terminals would “hardly make any difference in the lives of the people.”
He said cross-border smuggling was a major source of income for people living in the frontier areas of Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, so “this requires a lot more effort than mere setting up of markets to check this undocumented economy.”
Zubair Motiwala, chairman of the Pak-Afghan Joint Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said the government should establish cold storages and warehouses in the border markets to boost the export of perishable and other items to the neighboring countries.
“The taxation system on the exports and imports of different items through the land routes should be well defined to encourage businessmen and locals to boost the legal trade with Afghanistan and Iran,” he said.