ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Thursday said that China’s Sinopharm vaccine is not effective for people over 60 years of age, a day after it began its countrywide coronavirus vaccination programme with the Chinese jabs.
China donated half a million doses of Sinopharm vaccines to Pakistan which sent a special plane to airlift the jabs on Monday.
Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Health, Dr Faisal Sultan told the media on Thursday that Pakistan’s expert committee while considering the preliminary analysis data recommended the vaccine only for people aged 18-60 years.
“At this stage, the expert committee has not authorised the Sinopharm vaccine for people older than 60,” he said, adding that after getting more data, a decision will be made whether it can be used for elderly.
Pakistan began its countrywide coronavirus vaccination programme on Wednesday, with the first jabs administered simultaneously in all four provinces, a day after Prime Minister Imran Khan launched the immunisation drive in capital Islamabad.
Khan had said that frontline health workers would be vaccinated first, followed by the elderly citizens and then the rest. But now people above 60 years would have to wait for some other vaccine to get protection against the coronavirus.
China has said that it is currently conducting field trials for 16 vaccines, while it has so far granted conditional approval to Sinopharm, even as it began supplying the shot to a number of countries, including Pakistan.
Pakistan has so far approved three coronavirus vaccines for use – China’s Sinopharm vaccine, Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine and the Covishield vaccine developed by Oxford University-AstraZeneca.
Planning Minister Asad Umar said last week that the global COVAX initiative would provide 17 million doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine to Pakistan in the first half of 2021. Officials said it would be used for elderly people.
COVAX, formally known as the Covid-19 Vaccines Global Access Facility, is a global initiative, which aims at ensuring that middle and lower-income countries get timely access to coronavirus vaccines.
Meanwhile, the number of coronavirus cases in Pakistan on Thursday reached 550,540 after 1,508 new cases emerged in the last 24 hours, according to the ministry of National Health Services.
Another 31 people died in this period, taking the Covid-19 toll to 11,833 while 1,971 patients were in critical condition.
The ministry said that 505,818 people have recovered so far.