ISLAMABAD (Reuters) – Pakistan on Monday approved the Chinese Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use, a government statement said, two days after AstraZeneca’s vaccine developed with Oxford University received a similar authorization.
The Drug Regulatory Authority Pakistan (DRAP) said the vaccine, manufactured by China National Pharmaceutical Group (SinoPharm), had been given emergency use approval (EUA).
Pakistan’s health ministry has said the country was in process of speaking to different vaccine makers.
“The two COVID-19 vaccines have been granted EUA with certain conditions,” a DRAP’s spokesman said, adding that both vaccines have been evaluated for their safety and quality.
The authorization will be reviewed on quarterly basis for further data regarding safety, efficacy and quality, the spokesman said.
Pakistan has been engaging with a number of vaccine makers, health minister Faisal Sultan said over the weekend, adding that the country could get “in the range of tens of millions” of vaccine doses under an agreement with China’s Cansino Biologics Inc.
The vaccine company’s Ad5-nCoV COVID-19 candidate is nearing completion of Phase III clinical trials in Pakistan. The preliminary results of the Cansino vaccine may come in by mid-February, Sultan said.
However, Pakistan has yet to place an order to procure any vaccine.
The minister said Pakistan planned to cover vaccines for the majority of the population for free, adding that private companies could also be allowed to import and sell vaccines once supply was available to an authorized company.
Pakistan reported 1,920 new coronavirus infections and 46 deaths on Monday, taking the total number of cases to more than 521,212 with fatalities approaching 11,000.
Reporting by Asif Shahzad; Editing by Alex Richardson and Bill Berkrot