Islamabad, DEC 30 – The Special Cabinet Committee constituted as an oversight body for procurement of the COVID-19 vaccine, held its second meeting with the Minister for Planning Asad Umar in the chair. Minister for Science & Technology Fawad Chaudhry and Minister for Industries Hammad Azhar are the other members of the committee who attended the meeting. The Special Assistant to PM on Poverty Alleviation Dr Sania Nishtar and SAPM on Health Dr Faisal Sultan attended the meeting on the invitation.
The meeting reviewed the overall situation of COVID-19 vaccines. The committee was apprised that a number of countries have pre-booked COVID-19 vaccine based on preliminary or incomplete results in order to ensure the timely availability of vaccines for their populations. In some situations, vaccines were pre-booked even in development stages to ensure availability.
The committee was informed of the deliberations of an expert committee formed by Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP) who are in process of reviewing and analyzing available data from clinical studies performed so far. Of the available options, data from one company has been submitted for review to the committee for a final adjudication for emergency use.
In line with global practices at present whereby emergency procurement has to be made at times with incomplete and evolving information, the committee decided to pre-book COVID-19 vaccine from a Chinese state-owned company, Sinopharm based on data submitted and timely availability. This decision is contingent upon emergency use approval by DRAP. Once approved and procured, the government will provide free of cost COVID-19 vaccine for all frontline health workers in the first quarter of 2021.
It was also decided that other manufacturers of COVID-19 vaccine will continue to be engaged in for future bookings for the remaining phases of vaccination, based on further data and availability. It was reiterated by the committee that the private sector will also be encouraged to approach DRAP and follow the laid down procedures for emergency use authorization of any available and safe COVID-19 vaccine.