A health official draws a dose of AstraZeneca's Covid-19 vaccine manufactured by the Serum Institute of India, at Infectious Diseases Hospital in Colombo, Sri Lanka January 29, 2021. PHOTO: REUTERS/FILE

SHC allows commercial sale of imported vaccine

NCOC registers 4,974 new Covid cases, 98 fatalities in 24 hours

Our Correspondent April 02, 2021

The Sindh High Court (SHC) issued a four-page interim written order on Thursday regarding release and sale of coronavirus vaccine on spot consignments basis, ordering that a batch of Covid-19 vaccine imported by a private company be immediately made available to the public.

A single bench, comprising Justice Nadeem Akhtar, rejected a request from the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP) to stop the sale of the vaccine. The court maintained the country faced a dangerous situation due to the pandemic, therefore, the sale of the vaccine could not be stopped.

"Any restriction relating to sale of the Covid-19 vaccine at this stage would be against the public interest because of its undisputed urgent need due to the crisis faced by the country," the written order said. The judge ordered that the government should fix the price of Covid vaccine in 7 days.

Following the written order, the company withdrew the contempt petition against DRAP officials, while further hearing of the petition was adjourned until April 12. Until them, the interim order will remain in force.

Read more: Pakistan reports almost 5,000 new Covid-19 cases, 96 deaths in 24 hours

The court said it would hold further hearings to determine pricing, but added the sale of the vaccines should start immediately and, once a fair price was determined, any monetary difference could be recovered from the company at a later stage.

Pakistan, largely reliant on the COVAX vaccine-sharing initiative, last month allowed private firms to import vaccines and agreed to exempt them from price caps, but later rescinded the exemption and said it would set maximum prices.

The country started the vaccination campaign in February with the doses donated by the Chinese government. It also expected millions of doses under the arrangements with COVAX and Gavi. However, these consignments had been delayed. Recently the government imported vaccines from China.

The vaccination drive becomes more important as the third wave of Covid-19, driven by the UK strain of coronavirus has intensified. The month of March saw nearly 90,000 new cases, along with 2,000 fatalities, according to the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) data.

The NCOC—the nerve centre of the government anti-Covid strategy – said in its daily update on Thursday that the number active cases rose to 53,127 with 4,974 more people tested positive in the last 24 hours.

It also said that 98 patients, 88 of them in hospitals, including 29 on ventilators, died during the past 24 hours, adding that most of the deaths occurred in Punjab followed by Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Also during the same period 2,148 people recovered from the disease.

As of Thursday, the national caseload of the disease rose to 672,931, out of whom 605,274 people made full recovery. The nationwide death toll stood at 14,530. The NCOC said that 3,901 corona patients were admitted to 631 hospitals across the country, which are equipped with Covid facilities.



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