ISLAMABAD: The supply of COVID-19 vaccines from private health facilities in Pakistan has run out and bosses say that they are struggling obtain more doses from manufacturers in the face of high global demand.
In the past two months, two privately owned pharmaceutical companies in Pakistan, AGP and AJM Pharma, imported 50,000 doses of the Russian Sputnik V vaccine and 10,000 of the single-dose Chinese Convidecia vaccine. They have all now been used at private hospitals and other medical facilities in Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad to inoculate 35,000 people.
“Our first shipment of 50,000 doses has been fully used, but now we are facing supply issues for further imports from the manufacturer in Russia,” Muhammad Kamran Mirza, a nonexecutive director of AGP, told Arab News.
He added that efforts are continuing to obtain more doses from the manufacturers but “we are not sure when we will get them.”
Sultan Khan, a marketing executive with AJM Pharma, told Arab News: “Our imported vaccine has been administered in the hospitals where the vaccine’s trials were conducted earlier this year.
“The COVID-19 vaccine is in high demand in the global market and we are trying to help the government as much as we can (to help fight the virus).”
Demand in Pakistan for vaccines from private health providers is increasing as a third wave of the pandemic sweeps through the South Asian nation of 220 million people. The Sputnik V and Convidecia vaccines are authorized for emergency use in the country. AGP and AJM administer them at a cost of 8,449 rupees ($55) for two doses of Sputnik and 4,225 rupees for the single-dose Convidecia. The prices are set by the federal Cabinet.
In addition to imports by private companies, the government has procured six million doses of the Sinopharm and Convidecia vaccines from China, and so far more than 1.8 million people above the age of 60 have been inoculated. A number of vaccination centers have been set up across the country with the aim of vaccinating at least 70 million people by the end of the year.
In a message posted on Twitter on Monday, Planning Minister Asad Umar — who heads the National Command and Operation Center, the federal body tasked with dealing with the pandemic — said that the government will open the vaccine registration process on Tuesday to all residents above the age of 40, and that walk-in vaccinations will be available to all registered citizens age 50 and older.
Pakistan has conducted phase-III clinical trials of the Convidecia vaccine and plans are under way to begin manufacturing it in partnership with China.