Govt wants to obtain vaccine of highest efficacy.

Byline: Syed Irfan Raza and Ikram Junaidi

ISLAMABAD -- The government is confident of acquiring the anti-Covid vaccine by the first quarter of the current year but is adopting a 'look-before-you-leap' strategy to ensure procurement of a medicine of the highest efficacy.

On the other hand, 45 more people succumbed to the virus during the last 24 hours while 2,417 new patients surfaced in the country.

'Our target is to procure the vaccine in the first quarter of the current year, and we are confident of doing so. But it is quite difficult to say on which date we will acquire the vaccine,' Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Health Dr Faisal Sultan told Dawn on Friday.

He said the government was under close contact with a few international firms manufacturing the Covid-19 vaccine.

'We will get the vaccine from the firm which prepares it the earliest,' he added.

A source in the health ministry said the government was eager to procure the vaccine but not in haste. It aims to get a 'cost effective and best result oriented' vaccine that could be administered to people, he added.

PM's aide insists govt hasn't delayed procurement

The source quoted an example of Brazil where a vaccine was tested but its efficacy was found to be only 50 per cent, whereas the vaccine with 70 to 80pc efficacy was considered successful.

Dr Sultan negated an impression that the government had delayed the procurement of the drug and said it was a matter of days before orders to purchase the vaccine would be placed.

He said trials of the vaccine produced by the Chinese firm, Cansino, were near completion and if its tests were found to be successful, the government would register the medicine with the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (Drap) for procurement.

The special assistant said although the country had a population of 200 million, 100 million were under the age of 18 years, and therefore would not be vaccinated.

'As 100pc population cannot be vaccinated in any country, we need to target 70pc of the vaccineable population, which is 70 million,' he said.

Dr Sultan said in the first phase, two categories of people would be administered the vaccine - the frontline healthcare workers and people over 65 years of age.

'There are seven million people in the age bracket of 60 and 65 years who will be vaccinated in the second phase along with the remaining healthcare professional,' he said.

'We believe procurement of vaccine for the second phase will start in May as...

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