14,000 Pfizer vaccine doses land in Pakistan

By: News Desk      Published: 04:48 PM, 21 Jul, 2021
14,000 Pfizer vaccine doses land in Pakistan
File photo.

The first shipment of Pfizer coronavirus vaccine containing 14,000 jabs has arrived in Pakistan, reported 24NewsHD TV channel.

Sources told 24News TV channel on Wednesday the shipment was part of a deal signed by Pakistan with Pfizer company for the purchase of 13 million coronavirus vaccine doses.

The 14,000 doses flown in by a foreign airline’s plane were immediately shifted to EPI’s central warehouse.

See Also: Pakistan reports 40 new Covid deaths, 2,579 infections in 24 hours

These doses will be injected into people suffering from weak immune system and protracted illnesses.

It will also be injected to people who want to travel abroad, said the sources.

Pfizer to produce Covid-19 vaccine in South Africa

Covid-19 vaccine makers BioNTech and Pfizer on Wednesday said they had found a South African partner to produce their jab locally, the first such deal on the African continent.

The move comes amid growing criticism of vaccine inequality that has seen poor countries fall behind richer ones in the race to protect people from the coronavirus.

Under the agreement, Cape Town-based Biovac will complete the last step in the manufacturing process of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, known as "fill and finish", the companies said in a statement.

The project will take time to get off the ground however, with the first African-finished vaccines not expected before 2022.

Once up and running, Biovac is set to churn out more than 100 million doses annually that will be distributed to the 55 countries in the African Union.

"This is a critical step forward in strengthening sustainable access to a vaccine in the fight against this tragic, worldwide pandemic," said Biovac chief executive officer Morena Makhoana.

The "technical transfer, on-site development and equipment installation activities will begin immediately," the statement added.

The coronavirus vaccine developed by BioNTech and its US partner Pfizer, based on mRNA technology, was the first to be approved in the West late last year. 

Studies have shown it is highly effective against Covid-19, including against newer and more contagious virus variants.

- 'They never come' -

With the vaccine rollouts well under way in the West, and supply even outstripping demand in some countries, calls have grown for pharma companies to waive patents on their life-saving jabs.

This has been fiercely opposed by the companies themselves and countries like Germany, whose Chancellor Angela Merkel says suspending intellectual property rights could stifle innovation and would not resolve the lack of manufacturing capacity in the short term.

She has instead argued for licensing agreements and partnerships between vaccine makers and local firms, an approach taken by BioNTech, a German company.

"We aim to enable people on all continents to manufacture and distribute our vaccine while ensuring the quality of the manufacturing process and the doses," said Ugur Sahin, BioNTech's co-founder and CEO.

Pfizer/BioNTech said they have so far shipped more than one billion COVID-19 vaccine doses to more than 100 countries or territories, including through the global Covax vaccine-sharing programme.

The Covax scheme, backed by the World Health Organization and heavily relied on by African countries, has delivered far fewer doses than expected so far however.

The WHO estimated earlier this month that only two percent of the African population, around 16 million people, were fully vaccinated.

South Africa has the highest number of Covid-19 cases and deaths in Africa, recording more than 2.3 million infections and over 67,000 deaths.

The country is currently battling a brutal third wave of the pandemic, fuelled by a lack of vaccines, public fatigue with Covid restrictions and the rise of the highly contagious Delta variant.

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa last month announced a plan to turn his country into an mRNA vaccine hub, saying Africans "cannot continue to rely on vaccines that are made outside of Africa because they never come".

With inputs from AFP.