Cabinet approves $150m for vaccine purchase: Faisal Health workers, senior citizens to get first doses

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Zubair Qureshi

Islamabad

The Federal Cabinet on Tuesday approved the allocation of US$150 million for procurement of Covid-19 vaccines. At least two vaccines will be patented in the world this month and will be available most likely before Christmas.
This was stated by Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Health Dr Faisal Sultan, alongwith Information Minister Shibli Faraz, while briefing the media after the cabinet meeting.
The federal cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan also decided that after its procurement, the vaccine will be administered to the population in stages: frontline healthcare workers will
be the first priority; in the second stage, the elderly and at risk-population, in addition to other healthcare workers, will get the vaccine; and

the common public will receive the vaccine in the third stage.
He said the stages for vaccine administration were decided according to the risk faced by each population group and suggested the

vaccine will be given free of cost.
He said though negotiations were underway with a number of companies yet after the cabinet nod, they would enter the final

stage.
To a question, Dr Faisal said the benchmark for selection of vaccine would be its type, efficacy, the production capacity, price

and storage requirement. SAPM Dr Faisal hoped the vaccine would be available by the first quarter of 2021.
He added that several companies that were working on development of a vaccine were shortlisted and initial negotiations have

started.
The prime minister’s aide said while $150m have been approved for vaccine procurement, the authorities will request the

government to approve more funds if required. The federal cabinet was also requested to constitute a committee comprising four or

five members of the cabinet to oversee the procurement of the vaccine in order to ensure transparency.
To a question, the SAPM on Health said the government would go for both, the Chinese and the Western vaccine. The federal

cabinet also decided to reduce the price of the Covid-19-effective drug Remdesivir from Rs9,244 to Pak Rs5,660.
“The government will fund this [and] take on this responsibility so nobody will be burdened,” he added.
The prime minister’s aide said that while $150m has been approved for vaccine procurement, the authorities will request the

government to approve more funds if required. The federal cabinet was also requested to constitute a committee comprising four or five

members to oversee the procurement of the vaccine in order to ensure transparency.
“In a nutshell, the federal government approved that a procedure be adopted as soon as possible to make possible the

procurement of a safe and effective vaccine,” he said..

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