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Pakistan

Pakistan to allow private firms to import COVID-19 vaccine, exempt from price caps

  • Pakistan has yet to secure substantive volumes of vaccines from any companies and it only this month launched a vaccination drive with 500,000 shots of Sinopharm’s vaccine donated by China.
  • Pakistan is still largely reliant on the GAVI/WHO COVAX vaccine initiative that is aiming to provide shots to poorer nations.
Published February 11, 2021
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Pakistan is to allow private companies to import coronavirus vaccines and has agreed to exempt such imports from price caps, documents obtained by Reuters revealed on Wednesday.

As per details, the documents show that National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination division had sought out the approval from the special cabinet, to allow exemption from such imports, while excluding the imported vaccines from the strict price cap – typically applied to all drug sales within the country.

Health Minister Faisal Sultan confirmed the agency that the proposal, tabled by the cabinet, has been approved by the Prime Minister Imran Khan.

The decision is a massive step going forward for the procurement of the vaccine.

Pakistan has yet to secure substantive volumes of vaccines from any companies and it only this month launched a vaccination drive with 500,000 shots of Sinopharm’s vaccine donated by China.

Those shots are first being given out to frontline health workers on a priority basis.

The health minister said that Pakistan still planned to inoculate its population for free and only a “small minority” who wish to pay for the shots will have that option in the open market.

“Only those who wish to get it via private sector will pay anything,” he said. “Personally, my assessment is that when the vaccines are available and we have market competition, that will automatically set the prices.”

Pakistan is still largely reliant on the GAVI/WHO COVAX vaccine initiative that is aiming to provide shots to poorer nations.

Pakistan has yet to receive any of the 17 million doses it is expected to get through the COVAX initiative.

Earlier on Monday, Government had allowed the private sector to purchase COVID-19 vaccine for people who could afford it before a government rollout.

“Private sector has also been given permission by government to cater for that segment of society which can afford it,” Arab News stated quoting the official statement of the health ministry.

Vaccine budget increased

Parliamentary Secretary for National Health Services Dr. Nausheen Hamid said the budget for the vaccines had been enhanced to 250 million dollar. Earlier, the government had set aside $150 million.

Dr Nausheen rejected claim that the government had allocated additional $100 million for vaccine purchase, saying the government was trying to generate the additional amount and was also in touch with international organisations.

“Additional funds will also be arranged by government as per requirements,” she said. The vaccines are expected to arrive by the end of the first and beginning of second quarter of 202, Health Ministry stated.

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