Cabinet to discuss Covid vaccine procurement strategy

Statesman Report

ISLAMABAD: While it is expected that at least two Covid-19 vaccines will be registered globally by next month, the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) on Monday finalised its recommendations for the procurement of the vaccine against the deadly disease.

The recommendations will be presented before the federal cabinet during its meeting scheduled for today, and approval will be sought to avail the opportunity to get the vaccine at the earliest.

This was disclosed by federal Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar.

“NCOC today finalised its recommendations for procurement of Covid vaccine. These will be presented to the cabinet tomorrow for approval.

The task force of experts headed by SAPM health Dr Faisal Sultan had developed the recommendations which were discussed and finalised today,” he said in a tweet on Monday.

A senior official of the Ministry of National Health Services (NHS), requesting not to be named, said that different options were being discussed for the last four months.

“However, unfortunately, the process was derailed every time due to different reasons such as [possible] side effects of the vaccines, which vaccine would be available earlier etc., so different options were being considered and reviewed at the same time,” he said.

“As we speak, it is expected that at least two vaccines will be registered, somewhere in the world, in December 2020. We have to make arrangements to get the vaccine at the earliest. Moreover, it has been decided that the vaccine will be given to healthcare workers, senior citizens and people suffering from chronic diseases such as diabetes, cancer, etc., on a priority basis,” he said.

The official said the proposals will be discussed with the federal cabinet and after getting its approval steps will be taken for vaccine procurement.

Replying to a question, he said the shelf price of Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine was $20 and two shots of the vaccine will be provided to each person so it will cost $40 to vaccinate each person. The vaccine of AstraZeneca, meanwhile, will be available for $4 per dose so $8 will be required to vaccinate one person, he added.

“However we need to remember that it is the shelf price and can be negotiated. The price depends on the quantity we want and available stock. I believe the price can be reduced if we order at the earliest or if we let others purchase fist and stand at the end of the queue,” he said.

Earlier this month, Prime Minister Imran Khan had given the approval to allocate US $100 million and allowed advance payment for procurement of the vaccine at the earliest.