US declines to supply coronavirus vaccine to Pakistan in first phase

By: News Desk      Published: 02:14 PM, 18 Nov, 2020
US declines to supply coronavirus vaccine to Pakistan in first phase

As Pakistan is grappling with the second wave of coronavirus, the United States has told Islamabad that the coronavirus vaccine cannot be provided in the first phase, reported 24NewsHD TV channel on Wednesday.

Sources say the company involved in developing the much-awaited coronavirus vaccine will meet the domestic needs of the United States first and only then it is going to export the item around the world in the second phase.

According to a letter sent by the Pakistan Embassy in Washington to the Foreign Office in Islamabad, Johnson and Johnson – a pharmaceutical giant – is currently conducting clinical trials and facing some complications in the process.

The Pakistani diplomatic mission, which shared the US response, says it is making efforts for obtaining the vaccine and has been in contact with different companies working on the remedy to counter the deadly virus with an aim to ensure advance booking of consignments.

After receiving the letter from Pakistan’s embassy, the Foreign Office shared the US response with the Ministry of National Health Services, Regulation and Coordination. 

Earlier on Tuesday, 24NewsHD reported that Prime Minister Imran Khan had approved the suggestion to ensure advance booking of the vaccine.

Confirming the reports, Dr Nausheen Hamid – who is the parliamentary secretary for health ministry – said contacts had been made with two of the vaccine producers for advance booking.

Expressing her confidence that Pakistan would be able to achieve the goal, she said the government was taking steps to ensure the availability of the possible vaccine.

In this connection, sources say the proposal for this move was presented by the health ministry to the prime minister last month. 

According to the ministry, the coronavirus vaccine should be booked for 10 million people with the allocation of $100 million for the purpose. The first phase, it is said, will cover the health workers and old citizens.

Dozens of pharmaceutical giants and research institutes are currently working on developing vaccines to fight the coronavirus which has crippled the entire globe.     

On Monday, an important breakthrough was announced by Moderna – a US biotechnology company – which said early data showed that a new anti-coronavirus vaccine was nearly 95 percent effective.

This vaccine is to be administered in two doses with a gap of four weeks and requires storage at -20 degrees Celsius with a life of six months.

It is a very reassuring sign as the vaccine being developed by Pfizer has stated to have 90 percent effectiveness. But the biggest problem with Pfizer’s product is storage. Its vaccine will have to be stored at -75 degrees Celsius which would be a near-impossible task for the poor and developing nations.

Just like Moderna, the vaccine developed by Pfizer requires two injections but with a gap of three weeks.