ISLAMABAD: While the Covid-19 situation is worsening across the country, the government is negotiating with leading vaccine manufacturers across the globe to procure it at the earliest.
The government is in close contact with the COVAX, the vaccines pillar of the Access to Covid-19 Tools Accelerator, a global mechanism for pooled procurement of eventual Covid-19 vaccines, and the Global Alliance for Vaccine Immunisation, through which it is expecting to negotiate for a significant quantity of vaccine for Pakistani people as early as possible.
“Though we have been conducting Phase III trial of the vaccine in collaboration with China, at the same time we have taken all the front line runners who have been working on the vaccine into the loop so that Pakistan would get the vaccine at the earliest,” Ministry of National Health Services spokesperson Sajid Shah said while talking to Dawn.
He said the government was making efficient arrangements for effective supply chain management of the vaccine and required manpower needs.
According to a statement issued by the ministry, Covid-19 has devastated health systems and economy at global level and an effective vaccine is a possible long-term strategy against the deadly virus.
“Since January 2020, there have been intense global efforts to develop a vaccine in shortest time possible. In this scenario, the initial news of a potential effective vaccine is good news. The efficacy of preliminary results of experimental Covid-19 vaccine is reported to be 90 per cent of participants. While these results look encouraging, full trial data is awaited and only the availability and review of this data will clear the situation,” the statement says. “In the meantime, other vaccine manufacturers are also expected to publish preliminary results of their human trial in coming weeks, which will be keenly observed in the global community and experts in Pakistan. This pace of discovery is unprecedented and reflects the collective global effort in making it happen.”
The statement says: “The Government of Pakistan has a Covid-19 vaccine strategy in place which was developed in response to data and global best practices. Under this strategy the Government has prioritized the groups most likely to be the initial recipients of a potential vaccine. An expert committee on Covid-19 vaccine, which comprises of public health and infectious diseases experts from public and private sectors, has been the source of technical oversight and review of safety and efficacy data coming in from trials. Another committee has been negotiating with leading Covid-19 Vaccine manufacturers and has identified leading Covid-19 vaccine candidates for introduction in Pakistan.
“Clinical trials of Covid-19 vaccine are also in progress in Pakistan which are progressing satisfactory. The Prime Minister has shown special interest in ensuring quality vaccine at the earliest for Pakistani population. The government has, in principle, approved specific funding to obtain an effective vaccine.”
Chief Executive Officer of the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan Dr Asim Rauf, while talking to Dawn, said that it had been decided to use all possible options to get the vaccine at the earliest.
“Drap is also working to streamline the regulatory process for its expeditiously registration without compromising the vaccine safety and efficacy,” he said.
Meanwhile, the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) on Thursday claimed that 1,808 people had tested positive and the number of active cased had reached 22,088. As many as 189 ventilators are in use by Covid-19 patients across the country.
JUI-F legislator in denial
In an interesting development, the chairman of the National Assembly Standing Committee on Overseas Pakistanis and Human Resource Development stopped short of imposing fine on a Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) lawmaker for not wearing a face mask at a panel meeting with a warning that this leniency would not be shown next time.
The committee meeting, chaired by Sheikh Fayyazud Din of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, was being held at a committee room of Parliament Lodges.
JUI-F MNA Mohammad Jamal-ud-Din reached there without wearing a mask due to which the committee chairman asked him why he was not wearing a mask.
Mr Jamal replied that he did not believe in coronavirus. He also said that God was the saviour of people, not masks.
The chairman told him that a fine could be imposed on the JUI-F MNA for not wearing a mask and directed his staff to bring a mask for him. Finally, other members of the committee persuaded Mr Jamal to wear the mask.
After the meeting, Mr Fayyaz told Dawn that he had showed leniency as it was the first time that the MNA had not worn a mask.
“However Rs100 fine will be imposed on him if Mr Jamal again dares attend a committee meeting without wearing a mask,” he said.
Published in Dawn, November 13th, 2020