ECC approves $150m grant for coronavirus vaccine

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Around 10 million people are expected to be provided a vaccine cover from these purchases, the ECC said. Photo: AFP

ISLAMABAD: Economic Coordination Committee approved $150 million technical supplementary grant to book coronavirus vaccines from international manufacturers, The News reported on Saturday. 

The decision was taken evaluation of a proposal submitted by the Ministry of National Health Services in a meeting chaired by Finance Advisor Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh on Friday. 

The meeting was informed that this would be the first phase of procurement and the amount of vaccine would suffice for the most vulnerable five percent of the population – health workers and the population above the age of 65 years. Around 10 million people would be provided a vaccine cover under the above arrangement.

ECC directed the ministry of national health services to discuss the proposal with the World Bank and other donors in coordination with economic affairs division so that they could assist in providing financial facility for the procurement of the vaccine during the first phase and for the procurement of additional quantities in future as needed.

The forum also directed the ministry to draw a proposal regarding the pricing and risk mitigation mechanism for the procurement of the COVID-19 vaccine for provision on a wider scale, in consultation with the relevant stake holders.

‘Chinese vaccine better for Pakistan’

Prime Minister’s Taskforce on Science and Technology Chairman Dr Atta-ur-Rehman had last week said the Pfizer vaccine, celebrated worldwide for its reported 90% efficacy, was not suitable for Pakistan due to its sub-zero storage requirements.

“This vaccine is not suitable for Pakistan in my opinion,” Dr Rehman said in a conversation with Geo News.

Explaining his reasoning, he said the vaccine needs to be kept at -80 °C temperature, which in his view is a major problem for developing countries like Pakistan, who lack the “cold chain” necessary to transport the vaccine in such temperatures from the point of origin to the hospitals.

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