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Pak company allowed to import Russian Sputnik V vaccine

KARACHI: Pakistani company, Ali Gohar Pharmaceuticals Pvt Limited (AGP), an independent manufacturing company in Karachi, allowed to import Russia’s Sputnik V in Pakistan, said in a statement that the company is in contact with the leading private health facilities in Islamabad, Karachi and Lahore for the supply of Sputnik V vaccine.

The firm so far, no agreement has been reached with any of the health facilities or institutions in the country.

“At the moment, we are in contact with several leading health facilities, including Shaukat Khanum Cancer Hospital, Aga Khan University Hospital, Karachi, Shifa International Hospital, Islamabad, Doctors Hospital, Lahore, and some other leading institutions for the supply of Sputnik V,” adding that so far they had not signed any agreement with any health facility or institution in the country.

They also clarify that they have not entered into a supply agreement with any hospital or diagnostic centre for the supply of Sputnik V vaccine either directly or indirectly in Pakistan, the AGP official said as per the emergency use authorization and other permissions they have, they can only provide the vaccine to large hospitals and institutions but cannot sell it in the market.

The official also clarifies that the emergency use authorization and subsequent permissions restrict them to provide Sputnik V vaccine only to leading health facilities and institutions and not to sell it in the market and added that they would fully follow the directives and guidelines of the drug regulatory authorities of the country.

This comes as Chughtai Lab, a local network of diagnostic labs, claimed that it expects the Russian vaccine to be available in the country within one or two weeks.

Sputnik V is one of four vaccines approved for emergency use in Pakistan, in addition to those by China’s Sinopharm and CanSinoBio, and the AstraZeneca-Oxford University shot.

Chughtai Lab official claimed that will soon receive Russia’s Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine for commercial sale, making Pakistan one of the first countries to market shots privately as it scrambles to secure supplies. “We are told the first shipment is expected within the next week.”

The lab is importing Sputnik V through Pakistani firm Ali Gohar Pharmaceuticals Pvt and the Russian Direct Investment Fund, which is responsible for marketing the vaccine abroad.

Meanwhile, Pakistan’s decision to allow private sales of the vaccine without a price cap in a lower-income country of 220 million people has faced criticism.

The government also launched a vaccination drive this month with 500,000 doses of the Sinopharm vaccine donated by longtime ally China. But aside from the donated Chinese doses, Islamabad has not completed any deals to buy vaccines.

Pakistan also received the first batch of the Covid-19 vaccine, donated by China. The 500,000 doses of China’s Sinopharm vaccine were donated by Chinese President Xi Jinping and arrived at the Nur Khan Airbase with the help of a Pakistan Air Force aircraft. Pakistan has asked China for another one million doses.

The country is also set to receive 17 million doses of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine under a global scheme to deliver coronavirus treatments to developing nations. About 6 million doses will arrive by the end of March under the COVAX scheme, with the remainder due by mid-year, SAPM on Health Faisal Sultan announced last week. Pakistan was also the first country in the world to receive vaccines donated by the Chinese government.

A countrywide Covid vaccination drive started last Wednesday. Of the 0.5 million doses, Sindh was provided 84,000, Punjab 70,000, KP 65,000, and Balochistan 10,300 doses.

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