Pakistan has approved the third COVID-19 vaccine, Russia’s Sputnik-V, for emergency use. It earlier approved China’s Sinopharm and the one developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University too.
“Sputnik has received EUA (emergency use authorization),” Health Minister Faisal Sultan, told Reuters in a WhatsApp text message.
The Russian vaccine is given in two shots after three weeks. It has a shelf life of six-month at -18 Celsius.
A fourth vaccine candidate has also completed clinical trials. It is developed by CanSino Biologics Inc (CanSinoBIO).
CanSino trials have shown 65.7% efficacy in preventing symptomatic cases. It has a 90.98% success rate in stopping severe cases of the disease in an interim analysis of global trials.
Sultan said its efficacy in the Pakistani subset at preventing symptomatic cases was 74.8%. It was 100% for preventing severe disease.
The efficacy of the CanSino shot is based on an analysis of 30,000 participants and 101 confirmed cases in Pakistan. The minister said, citing an independent data monitoring committee.
CanSinoBio’s single-dose regimen and normal refrigerator storage requirement could make it a favorable option for many countries. Sultan said Pakistan could get shots “in the range of tens of millions” under an agreement with the Chinese firm.
Vaccination drive in Pakistan
Pakistan has already rolled out a vaccination drive with 500,000 doses of Sinopharm donated by China. It expects to receive further donations of more than one million doses.
Frontline health workers are receiving the first of the shots as a priority. However, a health official was recently suspended for out-of-turn vaccination of a PML-N Leader’s daughter and son-in-law.
The Pakistani military has also received a separate donation of the Sinopharm vaccine from the Chinese army. The military did not say how many doses the donation comprised but said it would hand them over to the government to provide to health staff.
Pakistan has also secured 17 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine under a global scheme to deliver coronavirus treatments to developing nations.
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