Pakistan has revised its COVID-19 vaccine budget from $150 million to $250 million. According to reports, the government has already signed non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) with a few multinational companies. Earlier, Pakistan had decided to contact the World Bank (WB) for funding. In this context, the Economic Coordination Division was directed to seek funds from the World Bank for advance purchases of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Talking to a news outlet, Parliamentary Secretary on National Health Services (NHS), Nausheen Hamid, confirmed that the budget for vaccine procurement had been increased to $250 million. She said,
We will sign a purchase agreement with more than one company to ensure that we get a vaccine.
She also remarked that Russia had also offered its Sputnik vaccine to Pakistan, saying,
We are looking into its safety and efficacy as public health is our top priority.
Dr. Nausheen Hamid later added that delivery of the vaccine would begin by the end of the first quarter of 2021. The vaccine would not be administered to everyone in the first phase, she added. Phase-I of vaccinations will cater to all frontline health workers attending to patients. People over 65 will be vaccinated as well.
Phase-II will incorporate the remaining healthcare workers, and people over 60 years of age will get preference. Nausheen Hamid informed that by the end of 2021, the vaccine would be made available to the masses. She further stated that the GAVI vaccine alliance has reportedly pledged to provide vaccines for 20 percent of the country’s population.
The World Bank
Meanwhile, in another news, a senior official of the Ministry of National Health Services (NHS) was quoted in a report saying that six multinational companies had already engaged with the ministry. Some of these companies have even entered in non-disclosure agreements (NDAs), in return for which the ministry is getting access to data and progress of vaccine trials. The senior official said,
The Chinese vaccine is also under trial in Pakistan. So, we will get the vaccine on a priority basis. As per assurances given by the companies, we may get between 100,000 and 500,000 doses by the end of February or in March. The vaccine will be administered to the most vulnerable people, such as healthcare professionals working with COVID-19 patients.
In an earlier report, it was revealed that the health ministry had directed the Economic Coordination Division to engage the World Bank in dialogue for securing advance purchases of the COVID-19 vaccine. According to sources close to the health ministry, the funds would be requested under the Credit Funding Act 6590.