ISLAMABAD • Pakistan will purchase 1.2 million Covid-19 vaccine doses from China’s Sinopharm, a minister said yesterday in the first official confirmation of a vaccine purchase by the country as it battles a second wave of infection.

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

Pakistani Minister for Science and Technology Chaudhry Fawad Hussain said on Twitter: “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 front-line workers in the first quarter of 2021.”

He told Reuters the purchase would be of the vaccine candidate developed by Sinopharm’s Beijing Institute of Biological Products.

Pakistan earlier this month approved spending US$150 million (S$198 million) to buy Covid-19 vaccines, initially to cover the most vulnerable 5 per cent of the population, but did not announce which one it would procure.

The country of 220 million people 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 case tally to 479,715.

Pakistan is currently running Phase 3 clinical trials for CanSino Biologics’ vaccine candidate, Ad5-nCoV, led by the government-run National Institute of Health.



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