• Cansino Bio only company to have conducted clinical trials in Pakistan • Around 20m doses to be available in next six months • Another Chinese firm to conduct clinical trial
ISLAMABAD: The Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (Drap) on Friday issued emergency use authorisation to the Chinese company Cansino Biologics Inc’s Covid-19 vaccine after which supply of the doses will start in a few weeks.
It will become the fourth vaccine to be allowed for emergency use in the country.
Cansino Biologics Inc is the only company that has conducted clinical trial in Pakistan, with around 18,000 volunteers participating from across the country. The analysis, which was released by the Independent Data Monitoring Committee (IDMC), showed that it had 74.48pc efficacy rate in preventing symptomatic cases and 100pc in preventing severe disease.
The authorisation for emergency use has been issued just a day after Mexico decided to use Cansino Bio’s vaccine to immunise its citizens.
In another development, Drap’s Clinical Trial Committee allowed another company to hold clinical trial in Pakistan.
During the trial, around 9,000 volunteers will be vaccinated through the University of Health Sciences (UHS) and Aga Khan University (AKU).
Last month, Cansino Bio completed its clinical trial in five countries — Pakistan, Mexico, Argentina, Chile and Russia — and sent the data to the IDMC to officially announce the efficacy rate.
On Feb 8, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Health Dr Faisal Sultan announced that the IDMC analysis of Cansino Bio showed that in Pakistan it had 74.48pc efficacy in preventing symptomatic cases and 100pc in preventing severe disease. However, international data from other countries showed 65.7pc efficacy in preventing symptomatic cases and 90.98pc in preventing severe disease.
The Ministry of National Health Services spokesperson, Sajid Shah, confirmed to Dawn that emergency use authorisation of the vaccine was issued on Friday.
“The decision was taken considering the results of the trials. So far, four vaccines — Sinophram (China), Oxford-AstraZeneca (UK), Sputnik-V (Russia) and Cansino Bio (China) — have been registered. This will make it easy to arrange the vaccine for such a large population to create herd immunity,” he said.
Replying to a question, Mr Shah said it was not possible to get the vaccine for tens of millions of people from one company so a basket would be created in which vaccines of various countries/companies would be included.
University of Health Sciences (UHS) Vice Chancellor Dr Javed Akram told Dawn that during the clinical trial of Cansino Bio, around 6,000 volunteers were vaccinated under his university.
He said only five per cent of the volunteers developed minor fever but not a single casualty or hospital admission was reported. He said issuance of emergency use authorisation to a number of companies would create competition and help bring down prices of the vaccines.
“Different sectors, such as restaurants and cinemas, are still closed. Once the situation improves and herd immunity is created, all sectors will be opened and ultimately the economy will flourish,” he added.
Dr Akram said the Clinical Trial Committee on Friday allowed the Chinese firm, Anhui Zhifei Longcom Biologic Pharmacy Co. Ltd, to conduct clinical trial.
“During the trial, 9,000 volunteers will be vaccinated under the UHS and AKU. As many as three shots will be given to the volunteers in a month to create immunity against the deadly virus,” the vice chancellor said.
Talking to Dawn, National Coordinator for Phase III Clinical Trial of Cansino in Pakistan Dr Hasan Abbas Zaheer said 40,000 volunteers were vaccinated in Pakistan, Mexico, Argentina, Chile and Russia.
“In Pakistan AGM Pharma has got the emergency use authorisation. I believe the vaccine will soon be available through the private sector. The supply of vaccine will start in a few weeks and around 20 million doses will be brought to the country in the next six months. It will be up to the government whether it purchases the vaccines or allows selling it through the private sector,” he said.
Meanwhile the National Command and Operation Centre revealed that 1,270 cases and 33 deaths were reported in a single day while the number of active cases was 29,981 as of Friday.
Published in Dawn, February 13th, 2021