NAB to seek Covid vaccine purchase record from private lab

Published February 23, 2021
The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) on Monday decided to seek the record from a known private laboratory about procuring Covid-19 vaccine from Russia. — Reuters/File
The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) on Monday decided to seek the record from a known private laboratory about procuring Covid-19 vaccine from Russia. — Reuters/File

LAHORE: The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) on Monday decided to seek the record from a known private laboratory about procuring Covid-19 vaccine from Russia and its proposed plan to charge over $100 [per head] profit.

The NAB Lahore has initiated a probe into a complaint that the private laboratory plans to charge over $100 profit from per person for Covid-19 vaccine after procuring it from Russia.

“The NAB is seeking record from the laboratory regarding procuring Covid-19 vaccine from Russia against $20 (two doses) and its proposed plan to charge $125 per person,” an official source told Dawn on Monday.

“The Russian Sovereign Wealth Fund which invested in developing the Sputnik Covid vaccine said they would sell it for $10 per dose ($20 for two doses). The laboratory [here] plans to sell it at Rs20,000 ($125) for two doses and under awareness and prevention, regime excessive profiteering or loss to public money should be checked according to the sections 33 C and 27 of the NAB Ordinance,” he said and added the bureau would see who would get how much, and how many million doses would be procured and sold.

The government has allowed private companies to import coronavirus vaccines and has reportedly agreed to exempt such imports from price caps.

Pakistan has yet to secure substantive volumes of vaccines from any company and it this month launched a vaccination drive with 500,000 doses of Sinopharm’s vaccine donated by China. Those shots are first being given out to frontline health workers on a priority basis.

Last month, Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar said the federal government would not hold a monopoly on the import of vaccines. “The provinces and the private sector are free to import vaccines subject to approval of the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (Drap),” he had said.

The Drap has so far approved three vaccines for use in Pakistan — China’s Sinopharm, Russia’s Sputnik V and the Oxford University-AstraZeneca.

When contacted, an official of the private laboratory told Dawn that he was not aware of the matter.

Published in Dawn, February 23rd, 2021

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