Tuesday, March 5, 2024

In Pakistan, the Covid vaccine may cost some $6

KARACHI/ ISLAMABAD: If it chooses to select the Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine approved by the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (Drap), the government is likely to bear $6 to $7 per dose of millions of shots if it chooses to pick the Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine, which has been approved by the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (Drap), although its single permitted local distributor is currently unable to provide a proper timetable for the supply.

Usman Ghani of the Sindh Medical Stores, one of Pakistan’s largest importers of vaccines and other pharmaceutical products, said, “Since the government allowed it [the Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine] and gave us the nod to import the consignments, we have estimated that it would be available to the government for something between US$6 and US$7.”

AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine has been approved for emergency use in Pakistan by the federal government. The representative of the Sindh Medical Stores said Drap had registered, but his company was unable to get documentary approval from the authority (Drap) until the date and even the price of the vaccine could not be decided. We are not in a rush, however, as we were unable to get any assurances from the supply line.

He told Dawn that the vaccine might be supplied to the masses at US $6 to $7 per dose as long as 50 million doses were procured. “For private sector and institutions, we’ve offered to supply it in Rs2,000 to Rs2,500 per dose if they order 10,000 or more doses,” Mr Ghani explained. “However, we’ve a history of transparent and proper deals as we all know that we are in very sensitive and delicate sort of business. So we’ve decided that we might only be providing the vaccines to reputed institutions like Aga Khan University Hospital (AKUH), Shaukat Khanum Memorial Hospital and a few others like that.”

In response to a query, Mr. Ghani said that as the vaccine was manufactured there, India could get the vaccine at cheaper rates and Prime Minister Narendra Modi had personally visited the plants and initially requested free vaccination, after which it was decided that the vaccine would be given at concessional rates.

Other developed countries will offer the vaccine at the same prices, if they have paid in advance. Nevertheless, for the citizens of wealthy, middle-income and poor countries, there might be different prices,” he said. Data would be kept and, he claimed, it would be possible to know how many people had been vaccinated since importing the vaccine.

In many countries, including the UAE, Sinopharm’s vaccine is used. Its efficacy is 80% and there have also been studies of 85pc efficacy in some areas. In addition, through Covax [an international coalition that has promised free vaccines for a population of 20pc], we will get vaccines. We also met with the British ambassador, and I think we’re going to be able to give you better news,’ said Dr. Sultan.

In answer to a question, the PM’s assistant said that after fulfilling the specifications, any company could import the vaccine, as the registration process had been made easier.

In the meantime, during an event titled “PML-N Policy Wing Working Session,” Senator Musadik Masood Malik exchanged party policies under Covid-1919 on vaccination, education and economics.

Later, during a media interview, Senator Malik said the party agenda was to prioritise the target population, beginning with frontline health workers, paramedical personnel, elderly and immunocompromised persons, followed by students, nomads and the rest of the population.

In addition, party policies concentrate on raising awareness by various means to curb anti-vaccine propaganda and to use the polio infrastructure for activism and social mobilisation. “The party policy dictates that an elaborate vaccination plan be put before Parliament,” he stated.

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