Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is an infectious disease caused by a newly discovered coronavirus. A newly identified coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, has caused a worldwide pandemic of respiratory illness. Older people and those with underlying medical problems like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease, and cancer are more likely to develop serious illness.
As of now, there is not a specific treatment for the virus. People who become sick from COVID-19 should be treated with supportive measures: those that relieve symptoms. For severe cases, there may be additional options for treatment, including research drugs and therapeutics. It is crucial to practice good hygiene, respiratory etiquette and physical distancing.
The coronavirus pandemic continues to grow with second and third waves reported in many countries. Vaccines are, however, also being rolled out in many places. Rich countries have already secured supplies while poorer countries await their turn.
Pakistan has formally launched its vaccination program nationwide on the 3rd of February 2021. At present two vaccines have been approved by the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP) namely AstraZeneca Oxford COVID 19 vaccine and the Sinopharm Vaccine on emergency use authorization basis. Both vaccines have been proven safe.
- The AstraZeneca Vaccine
The AstraZeneca vaccine was authorized on 15 January 2021 by DRAP on an emergency basis. About 2.8 million doses of the vaccine are expected to arrive close to 12th March 2021. The vaccine is administered in two doses 4 weeks apart. These vaccines will also be used to inoculate people above the age of 65 years. This demographic also includes health workers aged 65 and above. It has an efficacy rate of 70.4 % and UK have already started their vaccination drives with the Astrazeneca vaccine and have seen favourable results. This is a very low cost vaccine with a value of $4. It can easily be stored in refrigerator temperatures making the Cold Storage Chain easier.
Pfizer and Moderna have also promised to make 1 billion doses by the end of the year. It is noteworthy here that the developed countries have already booked Pfizer and Moderna for the purchase of the vaccine.
We will receive this vaccine through the COVAX facility — which is a global alliance formed to ensure equitable access to vaccines for lower-income countries. COVAX is providing Pakistan with a total of 17 million doses of the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine. The first shipment is expected to arrive before June.
- The SINOPHARM Vaccine:
The Sinopharm vaccine was approved on 18 January 2021. Around 5 million vaccines arrived and will be first available to high risk groups. The vaccine is administered in two doses 3 weeks apart and has an efficacy rate of 79.3%. Countries like UAE, Bahrain, Serbia have already started their trials with the vaccine and have observed favourable results. The cost of this vaccine is higher than the former vaccine selling for around $60 to $150 in China, but Pakistan is providing it for free to achieve herd immunization.
The federal government distributed the Chinese-made coronavirus vaccines
among Sindh, Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan. Sindh received 84,000 doses of the vaccine, Punjab 70,000, KP 65,000 and Balochistan 10,300 doses.
Future Plans for Coronavirus Vaccine Supply:
Talks are underway with Russian owned pharmaceuticals SPUTNIK for the procurement of the coronavirus vaccine. No adverse effects have so far been
reported regarding the vaccine marking a 91.4% efficacy rate. Cansino Vaccine which is also Chinese made is also under consideration for future use. It is in its third phase of trials but results have not yet been declared. This is also an easy store drug and will be provided to the citizens of Pakistan for free.
Leading Vaccines and Authorization:
- Pfizer vaccine:
Authorised in: Belgium, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Mexico, Philippines, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Singapore, UK, US, WHO.
- Moderna vaccine:
Authorised in: US, Canada, Mexico, EU, Israel
- Gamaleya vaccine:
Authorised in: Russia, Belarus, Argentina, Algeria
- Bharat Biotech:
Authorised in: India
- Sinovac vaccine:
Authorised in: China, Turkey