ISLAMABAD: Thousa­nds of volunteers are flocking to research hospitals across the country to join final-stage clinical trials of a Chinese-made vaccine for the novel coronavirus.

It is the first time Pakistan has participated in such a trial, which comes amid a string of positive vaccine announcements by western pharmaceutical companies this month.

The vaccine is being developed by CanSinoBio and the Beijing Institute of Biotechnology China.

“I have volunteered myself for a noble cause that will help humanity,” said a volunteer at Islamabad’s Shifa hospital, where hundreds of participants are being paid about $50 for their trouble.

Officials say about 7,000 of the 10,000 participants have already been inoculated

Others should “step forward and take part in this noble cause which will save lives”, he added.

For years, China has focused much of its attention in Pakistan on mammoth development projects, bankrolling the construction of roads, power plants and a strategic port.

Beijing has now tapped one of its closest allies to participate in the vaccine trials.

“We hope to have some findings ready about the accuracy and efficacy of the vaccine in two to three months,” Ejaz Ahmad Khan, the principal researcher overseeing the trial in Pakistan, told AFP.

Officials said Pakistan has already inoculated about 7,000 of the 10,000 participants expected to receive a jab.

The trials come with intensive care wards across the country nearing capacity as a second, deadlier wave of coronavirus spreads and officials struggle to counter public indifference to the pandemic.

The country has confirmed more than 382,000 cases including over 7,800 deaths since the virus arrived in late February.

Less than a year after coronavirus that has claimed 1.4 million lives began spreading across the globe, a number of highly promising Covid-19 vaccines are on the cusp of release.

Four drug makers have recently announced that their vaccines are effective for most people.

Due to lingering suspicions over vaccines, Pakistan is one of just two countries where polio continues to spread, sparking fears that a new drive to inoculate the population against coronavirus will fail.

The Chinese vaccine is also undergoing phase 3 trials — or large-scale testing on humans — in several other nations, including China, Russia, Chile, Argentina and Saudi Arabia.

Published in Dawn, November 27th, 2020

Opinion

Farewell Roosevelt Hotel
21 Jan 2021

Farewell Roosevelt Hotel

It is worth noting that massive plans have been upended and assets are now on the verge of being seized.
A horned dilemma
21 Jan 2021

A horned dilemma

Trump would rather ‘reign in Hell, than serve in Heav’n’.
Violence & Afghan peace talks
Updated 20 Jan 2021

Violence & Afghan peace talks

Many of those killed in recent weeks have actively been campaigning against rampant violence and rising human rights violations

Editorial

21 Jan 2021

Agosta kickbacks trial

A POLITICALLY significant trial opened in Paris yesterday. Former French prime minister Edouard Balladur is in the...
21 Jan 2021

Indian media scandal

IT is best if the fourth estate and the government maintain a healthy distance, because when members of the media ...
21 Jan 2021

Rising food prices

FOOD inflation continues to challenge the resolve of the government to control the prices of essential kitchen items...
Updated 20 Jan 2021

Broadsheet judgement

There are plenty of skeletons in the Broadsheet cupboard and they must be brought out into the open.
20 Jan 2021

Unequal justice

IT seems no one wants to testify against former SSP Malir, Rao Anwar. At least five prosecution witnesses, all ...
20 Jan 2021

Schools reopening

THE disruptive impact of Covid-19 on education will be felt for years to come. For countries like Pakistan, where...