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While India administers over a million vaccine doses in a week, Pakistan awaits its ‘unsafe gift’ from China

Pakistan is world's fifth most populous country but it is amongst the 51 countries which is yet to start immunisation program for its citizens.

India has administered a million doses of Chinese coronavirus vaccines to its frontline workers in just about a week. However, our neighbour next door Pakistan is still to get its first doses of vaccines delivered.

In April 2020, when the pandemic had just started to spread across the world, Pakistan PM Imran Khan had to inform his citizens that social media messages which claimed Allah has made Pakistanis such that coronavirus won’t affect them were fake. He had asked Pakistanis not to be afraid. “Aapne gabhrana nahi hai. It is our belief that life and death are in the hands of Allah,” he had said adding that the government will help the doctors and nurses in their ‘jihad’ against Coronavirus.

However, as rest of the world is already getting its coronavirus vaccine, Pakistan is yet to receive its first ‘gift’ from its friend China.

China promises vaccines to Pakistan

Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi last week announced that China has promised to provide 5 lakh doses of coronavirus vaccine by January 31.

Pakistan has approved the emergency use of SinoPharm vaccine to be administered to its citizens. A Chinese doctor, Dr Tao Lina, had earlier this month said that SinoPharm vaccine developed by China is the ‘most unsafe’ vaccine with as many as 73 side effects. However, soon his social media post mysteriously disappeared from Weibo, a Twitter-like platform for China. Some of the side effects of SinoPharm vaccine listed by him were pain around the injection area, headache, high blood pressure, the loss of vision and taste, and urinary incontinence.

World Health Organisation is yet to consider China’s SinoPharm and Sinovac vaccine for emergency approval.

The second vaccine, Sinovac, has also had efficacy issues. As per reports, the last-stage trials of the Sinovac vaccine in Brazil noted that the vaccine’s efficacy is around 50.38% and not 78% as claimed by China. The true efficacy rate is still unclear. 

Interestingly, Turkey reported an efficacy rate for Sinovac at 91.25%, and Indonesia reported 65.3%. In its recent statements, Brazil said that the level of efficacy is greater in some cases compared to others. Because of such mismatch in numbers and uncertainty over the data available in the public domains, some countries have decided to put the vaccine under review and pause the rollouts. The scientists have urged the company to release more information.

Chinese vaccine maker CanSino offers deal to Pakistan

Meanwhile, Chinese vaccine maker CanSino has offered 20 million doses of coronavirus vaccine to Pakistan. It is apparently a single-shot vaccine and has promised preferential pricing to Pakistan. Other vaccines have dual dose and require specific temperature to store the vaccines.

It is imperative to note here that CanSino vaccine is yet to declare its efficacy results from Phase 3 trials. CanSino and other Chinese developers had to reach out to other countries for Phase 3 testing trials. Eventually, CanSino started its late-stage trials in Pakistan, Russia, Argentina, Mexico and Chile.

CanSino has enrolled 17,500 participants few days back for Phase 3 trials in Pakistan. These results in Pakistan are likely to be the earliest results of CanSino’s protection against COVID-19.

Pakistan is world’s fifth most populous country but it is amongst the 51 countries which is yet to start immunisation program for its citizens.

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