Pakistan will import Chinese Cansino Biologics Covid-19 vaccines in bulk to package three million doses locally, Minister for Planning and Development Asad Umar said on Tuesday.
“We will be getting the bulk vaccine by mid-April from Cansino, from which 3 million doses can be made,” Umar said on Twitter.
“The bulk vaccine received will be formulated, sterilised and packed in Pakistan. For this purpose special equipment has been procured and manpower is being trained,” he said.
Meanwhile, the first batch of 60,000 doses of the vaccine is arriving today, he said.
Cansino’s vaccine is one of the four approved by the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (Drap), the other three being China’s Sinopharm, Russia’s Sputnik-V and the Oxford University-AstraZeneca vaccine.
The company had last month released the interim efficacy results of a multi-country trial, which included Pakistan, showing 65.7 per cent efficacy in preventing symptomatic coronavirus cases and a 90.98pc success rate in stopping severe infections.
In the Pakistani subset, the efficacy of the vaccine at preventing symptomatic cases was 74.8pc and 100pc at preventing severe disease.
Pakistan also expects to receive one million doses of Sinopharm vaccine in a couple of days.
Hafeez Shaikh tests positive
Meanwhile, outgoing finance minister Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh tested positive for Covid-19 on Tuesday, the third senior government official to do so in 24 hours, a week after Prime Minister Imran Khan announced he himself had contracted the virus.
“Just found out that Dr Hafeez has tested positive for Covid-19. I pray for his swift recovery and good health,” newly appointed Finance Minister Hammad Azhar wrote on Twitter.
Shaikh was removed from his post as finance minister on Monday, over concerns about rising inflation in the country. Also on Monday, President Arif Alvi, as well as Defence Minister Pervez Khattak, announced they had both tested positive for Covid-19.
Alvi oversaw the annual military parade in Islamabad on March 25, where Khattak was also present. The parade was smaller than in previous years over Covid-19 fears, but some 5,000 people still attended, including senior civilian officials as well as the heads of the armed forces.
Prime Minister Imran has been criticised for holding an indoor in-person meeting with some cabinet officials while he was still recovering from the virus.
Pakistan recorded 100 deaths in the last 24 hours, and 4,084 new infections, with a national positivity rate of 8.8pc.
The country has recorded 14,356 deaths and 663,200 infections since the pandemic began. Around two-thirds of ventilators and 80pc of oxygenated beds are occupied in hospitals in major cities, according to officials.
“We are increasing the capacity of our hospitals but no matter how much we increase capacity, if cases continue to rise as they are currently, it will create pressure that will not be easy for our hospitals to handle,” Health Minister Faisal Sultan said on Tuesday during a visit to major hospitals in the capital.
The federal government has put restrictions on gatherings, including all types of marriages, to go into effect next week, in an effort to curb the spread of the virus.