Pakistan said on Wednesday that it will locally produce the CanSino COVID-19 vaccine with the help of China.
Maj. Gen. Aamer Ikram, the head of the state-run National Institute of Health (NIH), told the parliament’s health committee that China’s single-dose CanSinoBio vaccine will be prepared locally “soon.”
He said Beijing has agreed to transfer the technology for the vaccine to Islamabad. The raw material of the vaccine, he added, will arrive in Pakistan by the end of April.
“Our team is ready to undertake this task,” Ikram said, adding that a Chinese team has already arrived in Pakistan to “oversee” the project at the NIH.
Pakistan was among the first countries to take part in the clinical trial of China’s CanSino vaccine.
“We hope that we will be able to finalize measures for the vaccine preparation by the end of this month,” he said, noting that the NIH has procured all the equipment and chemicals needed for this purpose.
The parliamentary committee, according to the local media, considered the development “good news for the nation.”
Islamabad is set to receive millions of COVID-19 vaccine doses from different countries in the coming weeks to speed up its slow immunization campaign. So far, out of 210 million population, slightly over 1.3 million people, including health professionals and people above 50 years old, have been inoculated.
Grappling with an intense third wave of the pandemic, Pakistan will receive 15 million doses of the vaccine from Germany under the World Health Organization-led COVAX facility by May, apart from procuring 7 million doses from China.
Beijing has provided over 1 million doses to Islamabad as a “gift,” and promised to provide another batch of 500,000 doses by the end of April.
Islamabad is currently using China’s Sinopharm and CanSino vaccines in government hospitals.
Private hospitals in major cities have also started inoculation with Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine imported by a pharmaceutical company.
The South Asian country has also approved the emergency use of the UK’s AstraZeneca and China’s CoronaVac vaccines. Both vaccines, however, have yet to be administered.