Govt caps prices of Russian, Chinese vaccines

Private sector imports vaccine amid sharp increase in coronavirus cases


Shahbaz Rana March 21, 2021
A medical specialist holds a vial of Sputnik V vaccine against the coronavirus in a department store in Moscow, Russia, January 18, 2021. PHOTO: REUTERS/FILE

ISLAMABAD:

The federal cabinet on Saturday decided to cap maximum retail price of the Russian and Chinese Covid vaccine injections, being imported by the private sector amid a sharp increase in coronavirus cases and in the absence of a wider government-funded vaccination programme.

The cabinet approval came through a circulation of the health ministry summary. It came on the day when Prime Minister Imran Khan was tested positive for Covid-19, said Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Health Dr Faisal Sultan. The premier had got his jab on Thursday.

The government has fixed the maximum sale price of Sputnik V Russian vaccine at Rs8,449 for two doses and China’s Convidecia at Rs4,225 per injection, showed the summary of the national health services and regulations ministry.

The Drug Pricing Committee of the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (Drap) had proposed the price cap for two vaccines – Sputnik V’s GAM-Covid-Vac solution, manufactured by the FSBI NF Gamalaya RCEM of the Russian health ministry and Convidecia vaccine, manufactured by CanSino Biologics Inc.

Last month, China had approved its first single-shot Covid-19 vaccine for general use, which Pakistan has priced at Rs4,225. The single-shot adenovirus-vectored vaccine, known as Convidecia, was developed by CanSino Biologics and the Academy of Military Medical Sciences.

The government has determined the price of Gam-Covid-Vac (Viral Vector 5 and Viral Vector 26) at Rs8,449 per pack of two injections, Rs16,560 per pack of four injections, Rs40,555 per pack of 10 injections and Rs81,110 per pack of 20 injections.

In Pakistan, Covid-19 vaccination is so far being carried out through the Adult Vaccination Counters (AVCs). However, the government’s response to procure vaccines remained very slow and it is largely eyeing on donations to vaccinate the increasingly vulnerable population.

In March, the government had approved $200 million loan as part of its overall plan to immunise nearly 70 million people against the Covid-19 contagion during current year. The government has planned to procure 146.2 million doses to provide shots to 69.6 million “eligible people”, according to the Ministry of National Health Services.

The World Bank and the ADB have offered loans to low and middle income countries to procure vaccines. The WB has recently restructured its worth $153 million Covid-19 related loan, which the health ministry said would be sufficient to cover over 10.5 million population.

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