ISLAMABAD: The National Assembly was informed on Monday that the National Institute of Health (NIH) in collaboration with CanSinoBIO China has started manufacturing Covid-19 vaccine - PakVac - at Biological Production Division (BPD) from concentrate bulk in May 2021.
Pakistan had signed a deal with CansinoBIO late March to import a concentrate of the vaccine in bulk to process and package the vaccine locally. In a written reply to a question, the Minister for Health, said that after having extensive training of formulation and quality control testing from Chinese vaccine experts, the BPD has so far prepared more than one million doses and supplied to expended programme for immunization (EPI) for vaccination of masses free of cost.
He said the vaccine costs $13 per dose, and the BDP has the capacity to deliver three million doses a month, adding the efficiency rate/immune response is 74.7 percent. To another question, the minister said the government had made extensive efforts to arrange the coronavirus vaccine and initiated agreements with different vaccine manufacturers such as Sinopharm, Sinovac, Astrazenica, CanSino, and Pfizer.
He said that free of cost vaccination was being extended to all citizens, adding the NIH had signed an agreement with CanSinoBIO China a developer of Covid-19 Vaccine (Covidecia) for transfer of technology to co-manufacture coronavirus vaccine at BPD, NIH to be implemented in two phases.
"First phase has been implemented. Chinese experts provided extensive training of formulation and quality control testing to scientists/engineers of BPD, NIH. As a result, BPD NIH has started shared production from concentrate bulk and so far has successfully produced one million doses by the name of PakVac, which are available for vaccination through EPI after getting lot release certificate from the DRAP," he added.
He said the next target was to prepare three million doses per month, which are under manufacturing process. To a question that Pakistan neither produces a single vaccine of any kind nor the country has a single FDA approved lab of international gold standard, the minister said there was no truth in it as there were three pharmaceutical units, which were manufacturing vaccines locally at present.
Pakistan had three World Health Organization (WHO) approved labs, while one more lab was under process of accreditation, he added. Pakistan, which has a population of over 220 million people, faced initial vaccination hesitancy and a shortage of vaccine supplies but in May, started mass vaccination for all adults.
It has so far relied heavily on China in vaccine procurement and of the six vaccines approved for use in the country, three - Sinopharm, SinoVac, and CanSinoBIO - are from China. The House also offered Fatiha for the departed soul of former chief minister and governor Sindh Mumtaz Bhutto who breathed his last on Sunday.
Late Mumtaz Bhutto had served as 8th governor and later as 13thchief minister of Sindh. He was also the first cousin of ex-prime minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2021