Pakistan starts working on nasal Covid-19 vaccine

Published May 25, 2021
People wait for their turn to get a Covid-19 coronavirus Sinovac vaccine at the Red Crescent vaccination centre in Rawalpindi on May 24. — AFP
People wait for their turn to get a Covid-19 coronavirus Sinovac vaccine at the Red Crescent vaccination centre in Rawalpindi on May 24. — AFP
  • Clinical trials expected in six to eight weeks
  • 200,000 people being vaccinated daily
  • NCOC reports 57 deaths, over 3,000 cases

ISLAMABAD: With only four million people having been fully or partially vaccinated across the country, the University of Health Sciences (UHS) has started working on protocols to start trials for nasal Covid-19 vaccine.

It will be a single dose vaccine, which does not require a syringe. It is hoped the clinical trial will commence in six to eight weeks after approval from three committees is obtained.

On the other hand, the country reported 3,060 new cases and 57 deaths in a single day.

Talking to Dawn, UHS Vice Chancellor Dr Javed Akram said the university had started developing protocols for the clinical trial of the nasal vaccine.

“The vaccine will be single dose and has been manufactured by the Cansino Biologics whose single dose injectable vaccine is already being used in Pakistan. Nasal vaccines are usually given to children but there will be no age limit for it and it can be administered to both children and adults,” he said.

The vaccine will be capable of generating an immune response at the site of the infection and within the respiratory passage. Though children are less affected by coronavirus, they are a major source of spreading the virus, therefore the vaccine will be helpful in creating herd immunity.

Dr Akram said during clinical trial, the vaccine – already being used inChina – would be administered to around 5,000 volunteers and its efficacy and safety would be compared with the injectable vaccines.

He said the nasal vaccine could also be cost effective or available at lesser rates.

“Once protocols are finalised, the university’s review board will analyse it and then refer it to the National Bioethics Committee. Final approval of the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (Drap) would be required. I hope the entire process will be completed within six to eight weeks,” he said.

Replying to a question, Dr Akram said volunteers would be tested through polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests and next generation sequencing to analyse the efficacy of the vaccine.

He hoped the nasal vaccine would be effective against all variants.

Meanwhile, the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) on Monday claimed that over 200,000 people were being vaccinated daily across the country and the number of overall vaccine doses so far administered was5,574,823.

According to data, 3,060 people contracted the virus and 57 died in the last 24 hours. As many as 506 patients were on ventilators across the country.

The data of different cities showed that inMultan,67 per cent vents were in use,followed by Lahore, 43pc;Bahawalpur, 40pc andPeshawar, 35pc vents. The most oxygenated beds were in use in Multan where the occupancy percentage was 59, followed by Swabi, 47pc;Peshawar, 39pc andBahawalpur, 37pc.

The number of active cases, which had surpassed 90,000 last month, was 62,917 as of May 24.

A total of 903,599 people have so far been infected by the virus, out of which 820,374 recovered and 20,308 died. At present, there are 4,763 patients under treatment in hospitals across the country.

Meanwhile, a number of sectors, including tourism, opened on Monday.

The NCOC had decided to open educational institutions in cities with less than 5pc positivity ratio, restaurants and tourist destinations from May 24. However it decided to continue curbs on shrines, cinemas, indoor dining, contact sports, festivals and indoor/outdoor gatherings and keep inter-provincial public transport suspended on weekends.

The forum allowed resumption of elective surgeries and holding of outdoor marriage ceremonies, with a maximum 150 individuals, from June 1. It also permitted holding of board exams after June 20. Those educational institutions that will not open on May 24 can resume from June 7, again in a staggered manner and decisions will be reviewed on May 27.

Published in Dawn, May 25th, 2021

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