COVID-19: Pakistan receives 2 million more doses of Sinovac vaccine

Pakistan has received another tranche of two million doses of Sinovac COVID-19 vaccines from Beijing. Image Credit: Supplied

Islamabad: A special Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) flight transported another tranche of two million doses of Sinovac COVID-19 vaccines from Beijing to Islamabad. The latest consignment of the Chinese vaccine comes a week after 1 million Sinovac doses arrived in the country.

Pakistan has so far received approximately 13 million doses of different coronavirus vaccines, according to state media. The five approved vaccines include Sinopharm, CanSino, Sinovac, Sputnik V and AstraZeneca.

Sinovac, branded as CoronaVac in some regions, is developed by a Beijing-based biopharmaceutical company Sinovac Biotech Ltd. The vaccine is approved for use in several countries and shots are being administered in China, Turkey, Indonesia and Brazil. The World Health Organization’s (WHO) emergency approval to the first Chinese vaccine Sinopharm has raised hopes for authorization of Sinovac which is currently being reviewed by the European Union’s medicines regulator to assess its effectiveness and safety.

Sinovac facts

· The vaccine is recommended for persons above 18 years of age

· It can be stored in a standard refrigerator at 2-8 degrees Celsius

· The vaccine requires two doses given 28 days apart

· Efficacy rates varied between 50 and 90 percent in different studies.

Vaccine guidelines

In Pakistan, AstraZeneca is being offered to people aged 40 and above only amid global concerns over unusual blood clots reported in a small number of younger people.

The other four vaccines are being offered to all those 18 years and above.

The duration between two vaccine doses is at least 12 weeks for AstraZeneca, three weeks for Sinopharm, and four weeks for Sinovac, according to the health ministry notification.

The country of 220 million people has so far administered more than 5.3 million vaccine doses as of May 24. Around 1.28 million people or 1.2 per cent of Pakistan’s 100 million adult population has been fully vaccinated against COVID-19. At least 208,064 people received their COVID-19 jabs in the past 24 hours, as per official stats.

Five million doses

Pakistan is among the 30 countries that have administered over five million doses, according to Minister Asad Umar, who heads the (National Command and Opera¬tion Centre (NCOC) leading national efforts against the pandemic. Pakistan is currently vaccinating citizens aged 30 and above free of cost at government health facilities.

Pakistan will be able to produce 3 million doses a month of the single-shot CanSino at the National Institute of Health (NIH) after the completion of the final stage processing of the vaccine imported in bulk from China. Dr. Faisal Sultan, the adviser to the prime minister on health affairs, said the local filling and vaccine technology transfer would significantly reduce the country’s dependence on other countries.

The country recorded 3,060 new infections and 57 fatalities over the past 24 hours.