Pakistani experts finalize recommendations for speedy procurement of COVID-19 vaccine

A laboratory technician holds a dose of a COVID-19 vaccine at the National Primate Research Center of Thailand at Chulalongkorn University in Saraburi on May 23, 2020. (AFP/File)
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Updated 20 August 2020

Pakistani experts finalize recommendations for speedy procurement of COVID-19 vaccine

  • Government encouraged to work with Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization for procurement support and co-financing
  • Health ministry says it will prioritize vulnerable segments as soon as the vaccine becomes available

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s health ministry said on Thursday that a group of experts working for the government had finalized their recommendations for the speedy procurement and deployment of COVID-19 vaccine as soon as it became available.
In an official handout circulated in Islamabad, it informed that these proposals would also be presented to Prime Minister Imran Khan during the ongoing month.
“The federal government has fast tracked processes for the provision of COVID-19 vaccine as soon as it is available,” said the statement. “In this context, technical committees working under the guidance of the National Command and Operation Center have finalized their recommendations … [which] shall be submitted to the prime minister during this month.”
The statement added that out of 10 vaccines currently developed by leading global manufacturers, six were already undergoing phase 3 trials.
“The committee has recommended engagement with Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI) for support in procurement through co-financing,” it added. “It has also been recommended to the government to arrange finances for the purpose. Also among the recommendations is enhanced collaboration with China including in clinical trials of the vaccine and efforts toward indigenous manufacturing of the vaccine.”
Pakistan has already decided to participate in the phase 3 clinical trials to test a COVID-19 vaccine developed by a Chinese company, CanSinoBio, starting next month. According to senior health ministry officials, the trials, which will be carried out in five cities of the country, will assure preferential vaccine supply and pricing for the country.
“The priority groups for receiving the vaccination (as soon as it becomes available) will be vulnerable segments of the population,” the statement noted. “The committee has also recommended preparation of a deployment plan and arranging cold storage facilities for the vaccine. The infrastructure of Expanded Program on Immunization with additional resources is being recommended for deployment and delivery of the COVID vaccine.”


Appeal opens against acquittal of Briton convicted in Daniel Pearl killing

Updated 01 December 2020

Appeal opens against acquittal of Briton convicted in Daniel Pearl killing

  • Pearl’s parents and prosecutors lodged an appeal at Pakistan’s Supreme Court in May, putting the release of Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh on hold
  • The American journalist was abducted in Karachi in January 2002 while researching a story about Islamist militants

ISLAMABAD: An appeal against the controversial acquittal of a British-born militant convicted of murdering American journalist Daniel Pearl opened at a Pakistani court on Tuesday.
A Karachi court sparked outrage earlier this year when it overturned the 2002 murder conviction of Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, and acquitted three other men connected to the case.
Pearl’s parents and prosecutors lodged an appeal at Pakistan’s Supreme Court in May, putting the release of the four men on hold.
“The case has finally opened, it will be decided whether they should be convicted or acquitted. The case is heading to a final verdict,” Faisal Siddiqui, the lawyer representing Pearl’s parents, told AFP.
The appeal, which has been frequently postponed in recent months, will hear opening arguments in the capital Islamabad on Wednesday.
Sheikh had been on death row for Pearl’s murder but was acquitted in April by the Sindh High Court which instead sentenced him to seven years for kidnapping — paving the way for him to walk free after already serving 18 years.
Three co-defendants who were serving life sentences in connection to the case were acquitted.
Pearl was South Asia bureau chief for The Wall Street Journal when he was abducted in Karachi in January 2002 while researching a story about Islamist militants.
A graphic video showing his decapitation was delivered to the US consulate nearly a month later.
Pearl’s killing stirred international condemnation of Pakistan’s military government just as it was remaking its image after years of backing the Taliban in neighboring Afghanistan.