Pakistan negotiating with China, Russia to get vaccine

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LAHORE: Country’s top health official has said that authorities are negotiating with China and Russia besides among others to procure coronavirus vaccines.“We are in talks with China, Russia and some other countries for procurement of the (coronavirus) vaccine after narrowing down our priority list,” says Prime Minister’s Special Assistant on Health Dr Faisal Sultan.

Dr Faisal told Anadolu Agency that the vaccine would be available in Pakistan sometime between January and March next year. He said the vaccine would be administered to health workers and senior citizens in the first phase. “There is nothing final yet; however, I can tell you that we have to rely on more than one source,” the SAPM said. “We will procure the vaccine only after its efficacy and safety is proven.”

While Russia has started the distribution of its Sputnik V Covid-19 shot nationwide, China is testing its vaccines in many countries, and supply deals are being signed. Other vaccines seeking emergency use authorisation are produced by Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and Oxford-AstraZeneca. Islamabad has already earmarked an initial sum of $150 million to purchases the doses.

Vaccine would be available in country between January and March. Last week, Nausheen Hamid, Pakistan’s parliamentary secretary for health, said all citizens would be administered COVID-19 vaccines free of charge, and the drive will begin in the second quarter of 2021.