Pakistan to purchase 1.2 mn doses of Chinese Covid shot

Pakistan to purchase 1.2 million doses of China's Sinopharm Covid-19 vaccine

Pakistan had earlier this month approved $150 million in funding to buy Covid-19 vaccines

A health worker prepares a syringe to inoculate a volunteer with a Covid-19 vaccine produced by China's Sinopharm during its trial at the Clinical Studies Center of the Cayetano Heredia University in Lima. Credit: AFP File Photo

Pakistan will purchase 1.2 million Covid-19 vaccine doses from China's Sinopharm, a minister said on Thursday, the first official confirmation of a vaccine purchase by the South Asian country as it battles a second wave of infections.

China approved a Covid-19 vaccine developed by an affiliate of state-backed pharmaceutical giant Sinopharm on Thursday, its first approved shot for general public use.

"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," Pakistani Minister for Science and Technology Chaudhry Fawad Hussain said on Twitter.

Pakistan had earlier this month approved $150 million in funding to buy Covid-19 vaccines, initially to cover the most vulnerable 5% of the population.

The country did not announce which vaccine it would procure, but said a panel of experts was compiling a list of recommendations and that it could tap more than one source.

"If the private sector wants to import any other internationally-approved vaccine, it can do so," Hussain said on Thursday.

The country of 220 million is in the midst of another spate of infections, with 58 deaths on Wednesday taking its death toll past 10,000.

It also reported 2,475 new infections, taking the total to 479,715.

Pakistan is also running phase III clinical trials for CanSino Biologics' Covid-19 vaccine candidate, Ad5-nCoV, led by the government-run National Institute of Health.