Pakistan govt's plan to commercialize COVID vaccine triggers row
Islamabad: Pakistan's health experts have expressed concern over the government's decision to allow some private companies to import coronavirus vaccines as they fear the step might make the vaccines to be sold at commercial rates.
The move has caused an outcry among medical professionals, some of whom claim it amounts to commercializing human suffering, reports DW.
The government started vaccinating frontline health workers on February 3 after receiving 500,000 doses from a Chinese company, setting up over 500 inoculation centers. So far, nearly 53,000 healthcare workers have been vaccinated, and those over 65 are starting to register to receive the jab, reports DW.
The Pakistan government has allowed three companies to import coronavirus vaccines.
"Pakistan formed a national vaccine committee one month ago, which analyzed data from various companies' vaccines and recommended their use," Dr Abdur Rasheed, the chairman of the clinical committee with the Drugs Regulatory Authority of Pakistan, told DW.
Rasheed said that after their recommendation, the three companies — AJM, Sindh Medical Stores Services Karachi and AJP — are now allowed to import the jabs. The companies will purchase the Astrazeneca, CanSino and Sputnik V vaccines, with prices to be determined later.
The government has said it will monitor the entire process.
However, health experts don't buy the government's assertion. They fear that the commercialization of vaccines would cause a great injustice to the poor, in a country that is home to at least 69 million people living below the poverty line, and where regulations are extremely weak, reports DW.
Pakistan has so far recorded 12,658 COVID-19 deaths.