What we know about China’s Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine approved by Pakistan
Pakistan will get the initial 1.2 billion doses of the vaccine in the first quarter of 2021
Pakistan will get 1.2 million doses of the coronavirus vaccine developed by Sinopharm in the first quarter of 2021 for the frontline workers. The decision comes after the approval of the vaccine for the general public by Chinese health authorities. Chinese authorities have said that the vaccine has exceeded the World Health Organization (WHO) standards.
Pakistani Minister for Science and Technology Chaudhry Fawad Hussain said that the cabinet gave the nod to acquire 1.2 million doses from Sinopharm. “The Cabinet Committee has decided to initially purchase 1.2 million doses of the vaccine from the Chinese company Sinopharm, which will be provided free of cost to frontline workers in the first quarter of 2021,” said Chaudhry.
What we know about the vaccine
There are a couple of candidates for coronavirus vaccines working with Sinopharm, and it is not clear that which particular one is under discussion. According to reports, Sinopharm reported a 79% success rate of its vaccine in phase 3 trials, lower than Moderna and Pfizer vaccines. However, interim phase 3 trials in the United Arab Emirates have shown 86% success. Emergency vaccine administration has been ongoing for some time, and reportedly, different countries have already had three million doses since December 15th. A large number of Chinese people have been vaccinated as well without reporting any severe side effects.
The vaccine must be refrigerated at temperatures between 2 to 8 degrees Celsius (or 35 to 46 degrees Fahrenheit) and can remain stable for up to three years. Pfizer’s vaccine needs extremely low temperatures, challenging to maintain in most countries, especially in developing countries.
How it affects Pakistan?
Pakistan has nearly half a million reported positive cases of COVID-19 with total deaths just over 10,000. While the first wave was relatively less severe, the second one has hit very hard. Between 2,000 and 3,000, new cases are being reported every day. The vaccine will be more than welcome as it will arrive earlier than the expected arrival of other vaccines like Pfizer. It will also be lower in cost, which will put less stress on the national exchequer. Initial doses will be administered to the front line workers as they are the most exposed.
In the longer run, the Sinopharm vaccine will suit Pakistan more due to lower cost and ease with which it can be stored. It also has a longer expected shelf life compared to the competition. It will still take about a year to get back to normal as more and more people get vaccinated. But this vaccine certainly offers a ray of hope and shows the path of finishing this challenging covid journey.