ISLAMABAD: Dr. Faisal Sultan, the de facto health minister of Pakistan, on Tuesday said Pakistan was hopeful it would receive the first batch of the COVID-19 vaccine from China’s Sinopharm in “early February.”
Pakistan said last month it would purchase 1.2 million COVID-19 vaccine doses from Sinopharm in the first official confirmation of a vaccine purchase by the South Asian country as it battles a second wave of infections.
“We hope to be able to get [vaccine doses from Sinopharm] in the first quarter of this year, hopefully starting in early February,” Dr. Sultan, who is the prime minister’s special adviser on health, told Arab News, adding that the government aimed to begin the process of vaccination within the first quarter of this year.
“We are hoping to deploy the vaccine within the first quarter. The 1.1 million [doses] are just the first phase,” he said.
Responding to a question about whether Pakistan planned to get the vaccine from other companies besides Sinopharm, Sultan said the government was looking at “multiple options” and was in touch with all companies whose vaccines had been approved internationally.
The National Command and Operation Center (NCOC), the Pakistan federal government’s central body dealing with the pandemic, on Sunday started registering frontline health care workers who will be vaccinated in the first phase.
Pakistan is currently battling its second wave of the virus and has so far recorded a total of 506,701 infections with 10,717 deaths.
“This is the first batch of 1.2 million doses for health workers; there will be more orders which will be used for the public in phases,” Dr. Atta-ur-Rahman, chairman of the COVID-19 task force, told Arab News, saying both the government and private sector companies would bring vaccines into Pakistan but the private sector had to get their vaccines registered with the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP).
“DRAP will check and have control on both the quality and price of the vaccine from the private companies,” said Rahman, adding that the general public would be vaccinated between June and September this year.
“Pakistan is considering to get the vaccines from all the companies whose vaccines have been approved internationally,” he said, “and it will be available in bulk for the general public in the second quarter, from June to September this year.”