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PM Imran Khan green-lights pre-booking of coronavirus vaccine

Dr Nausheen Hamid says payment for the purchases from international manufacturers will be made soon. Photo: File

Pakistan approached two coronavirus vaccine manufacturers after Prime Minister Imran Khan greenlighting authorities to pre-book the vaccine.

Speaking on Geo Pakistan, Parliamentary Secretary for Health Dr Nausheen Hamid said the federal government has shortlisted two major pharmaceutical companies for this purpose.

The government has not revealed the names of the vaccine manufacturers yet.

In the first phase, 10 million Pakistanis will get the vaccine – front-line workers and people over 65 years old will be given priority.

The government has given strict instructions, meanwhile, for restaurants and industries to follow standard operating procedures as coronavirus cases continue to rise in Pakistan.

‘Chinese vaccine better for Pakistan’

Prime Minister’s Taskforce on Science and Technology Chairman Dr Atta-ur-Rehman had last week said the Pfizer vaccine, celebrated worldwide for its reported 90% efficacy, was not suitable for Pakistan due to its sub-zero storage requirements.

“This vaccine is not suitable for Pakistan in my opinion,” Dr Rehman said in a conversation with Geo News.

Explaining his reasoning, he said the vaccine needs to be kept at -80 °C temperature, which in his view is a major problem for developing countries like Pakistan, which lack the “cold chain” necessary to transport the vaccine in such temperatures from the point of origin to the hospitals.

Unlike the Pfizer vaccine, Chinese vaccines — two of which are undergoing clinical trials in Pakistan, can be transported in “normal temperatures”, which he believes makes it “better suited for Pakistan and third-world countries”

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