Pakistan has earmarked USD 100 million for advance payment to procure the coronavirus vaccine as and when it is available, as the number of COVID-19 cases in the country reached 3,63,380 on Wednesday.
The funds were approved for the initial purchase with the decision that vulnerable segments like senior citizens, health practitioners and those having chronic diseases will be given priority in treatment, according to a report in Dawn newspaper.
Chairman of the National Vaccine Committee Dr Asad Hafeez said that it would take a few more months to get the vaccine.
The Ministry of National Health Services (NHS) has been interacting and negotiating with half a dozen multinational companies to get the vaccine at the earliest, he said.
An official of the health ministry said that it was not possible to estimate the cost of the vaccine at the moment, as there were no mRNA (messenger RNA) vaccines in the world.
We should [also] not forget that companies are manufacturing the vaccine. Despite their announcement that the vaccine will be provided at affordable rates, we should not expect that it will be available for almost free, he said.
Pakistan joined the race to procure the vaccine as it was battling the second wave of the pandemic, adding 2,208 new cases in the last 24 hours.
It suffered 37 deaths in this period, taking the COVID-19 toll to 7,230, according to the Ministry of National Health Services.
At least 325,788 people have recovered so far in Pakistan while 1,551 were in critical conditions. The number of active cases which was less than 6,000 in September rose to 30,362.
Sindh registered 157,432 cases, Punjab 111,626, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa 42,815, Islamabad 24,871, Balochistan 16,529, Pakistan-occupied Kashmir 5,640 and Gilgit-Baltistan 4,467 cases.
The ministry said 38,544 tests were conducted in the last 24 hours, showing that the positivity rate was 5.7 per cent.
So far, a total of 5,018,483 tests have been conducted in Pakistan.