Modi's Vaccine Nationalism: India's Hasty Approval of Homegrown COVID19 Vaccine

Indian drug regulator has approved COVAXIN, a Covid19 vaccine developed by Bharat Biotech.  The approval has been granted without completing large-scale phase 3 trials in India, according to media reports. It is India's first indigenous vaccine co-developed with Pennsylvania-based startup Ocugen. Ocugen, led by Indian-American scientists, does not currently sell any products.  India is the world's second worst-hit country by the global coronavirus pandemic.  Critics say the hasty approval of the homegrown Indian vaccine is motivated by "chest thumping nationalism". 

US-Based Ocugen: 

How COVAXIN Works. Source: NY Times

Ocugen is a US-based biotech company. It has no track record. It has not developed any drugs and doesn't have any products to sell yet. This lack of experience makes Ocugen a strange choice for an international commercialization partner, according to an investment analysis published in the United States. The Food and Drug Administration has made it clear that it won't authorize a coronavirus vaccine without data from a phase 3 trial conducted in the United States. NASDAQ-listed Ocugen stock has soared since the approval of COVAXIN for use in India. 

Bharat Biotech:

Bharat Biotech is an Indian biotechnology company based in the South Indian city of Hyderabad. 

Dr. Krishna Ella, the Chairman of the Bharat Biotech, has claimed that they are "no way" inferior to Pfizer in terms of coronavirus vaccine. He also said that Bharat Biotech is the only firm to have published five articles on the Covid-19 vaccine process, according to media reports

COVAXIN Vaccine: 

Some critics have dismissed COVAXIN approval as a manifestation of "chest thumping nationalism". Bloomberg's Andy Mukherjee has a story entitled "COVAXIN: Science, not pride will help India build trust in this vaccine". 

Indian government's decision to authorize COVAXIN has been sharply criticized by public interest groups in India. “The decision to approve an incompletely studied vaccine, even under accelerated process, raises more questions than answers and likely will not reinforce faith in our scientific decision-making bodies,” Malini Aisola, of the All India Drug Action Network (AIDAN), an independent collective of healthcare non-profits, said in a statement.

COVID19 Pandemic:

India has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic with over 10 million infections, second only to the United States. Indian economy has shrunk by double digits. Tens of millions of daily wage earners who make up the bulk of India's workforce have lost their livelihoods. Prime Minister Narendra's Modi's decision to impose a sudden nationwide lockdown is blamed for it. 

Summary:

COVAXIN is India's first indigenously developed vaccine that has just been approved for emergency use in the country. It has been co-developed with US-based Ocugen. COVAXIN's hasty approval without any phase 3 efficacy data has come under  sharp criticism. Some critics have dismissed COVAXIN approval as a manifestation of "chest thumping nationalism". Bloomberg's Andy Mukherjee has a story entitled "COVAXIN: Science, not pride will help India build trust in this vaccine". 

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Comment by Riaz Haq on April 10, 2021 at 7:35am

#COVID19: A year on, #India's situation grimmer with 'more infectious' variants, surge in cases. #Delhi had over 8,500 new cases on Friday, while #Maharashtra reported over 58,000. 10 states, including #UttarPradesh, showing steep rise in cases. #Modi #BJP https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/nation/covid-19-a-year-on-indias-...

When millions of Indians switched off lights and lit candles and earthen lamps in the early days of the pandemic in solidarity with COVID warriors, many probably though the fight will be over soon, but a year on, the situation has become grimmer.

On April 10 last year, five days after millions responded to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's appeal to show the nation's "collective resolve and solidarity" in the fight against the coronavirus, the number of confirmed infections stood at 6,761, while the death toll was 206.

Cut to the present, India registered a record 1,45,384 fresh COVID-19 cases on Saturday, pushing its infection tally to 1,32,05,926, while the death toll stood at 1,68,436.


Delhi alone recorded over 8,500 new cases on Friday, while Maharashtra reported more than 58,000.

As per the health ministry, 10 states -- Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Rajasthan -- are showing a steep rise in daily COVID-19 cases at present.

They accounted for 82.82 per cent of the new infections on Saturday, it said.

The number of active cases has breached the 10-lakh mark again after around six-and-a-half months, and the country recorded 794 more fatalities in a day, the highest since October 18 last year.


India crossed the grim milestone of one crore COVID-19 cases on December 19 last year. The spread of the virus slowed down briefly and there was an improvement in the situation in January 2021.

The country's lowest daily spike of just 8,635 infections was reported on February 2.


But the ebbing did not last long, and the infections began surging again in March 2021.

A large number of healthcare workers have contracted the virus too, including those who have taken both doses of the vaccine.


Over 9.78 crore COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered in the country so far to healthcare and frontline workers, and people above 45.

India is racing against time to contain the second wave of the coronavirus by again imposing restrictions like night curfews and vaccinating over 20 lakh people daily.


Making matters worse, several more infectious variants of the coronavirus have surfaced, and many experts believe it might be behind the surge of cases in the country.

Three variants of concern have been identified – the UK variant, Brazil variant and the South African variant.


India has also detected a new "double mutant" COVID-19 variant in states like Maharashtra and Delhi, where a surge of cases is being recorded

Comment by Riaz Haq on April 13, 2021 at 8:37pm

‘A tsunami of cases’: desperation as #COVID19 second wave batters #India. Doctors speak of a new variant of the virus that appears to be spreading faster than ever before. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/apr/14/a-tsunami-of-cases-de...

https://twitter.com/haqsmusings/status/1382174825448308738?s=20


Nightmare scenes of a country struggling to cope have begun to emerge as doctors speak of a new variant of the virus that appears to be spreading faster than ever before, affecting young people and even children this time around and pushing India’s healthcare system to the brink of collapse. States such as Maharashtra have imposed a weekend lockdown in an attempt to curb infections, while Delhi has introduced a night curfew, with a total lockdown still not ruled out.

Over the weekend bodies piled up outside the government hospital in Raipur, in the state of Chhattisgarh, because the hospital had “not expected so many people to die at once” from coronavirus and could not cremate them fast enough. In Surat, in the state of Gujarat, crematoriums became so overwhelmed with coronavirus victims that families began burning their dead on open ground.

“This sheer tsunami of cases has already overwhelmed the healthcare infrastructure in the state,” said Dr Shashank Joshi, a member of the Mumbai Covid taskforce. “This time we are seeing younger people between 20 and 40 getting seriously affected and even children are now being hospitalised with severe symptoms. The capacity for the healthcare system to hold on is fast dwindling.”

Kshitij Thakur, a local politician in the Vasai-Virar municipality of Maharashtra, made a desperate public plea for help with an “acute” shortage of oxygen in the local government hospital, which had already led to the loss of three lives.

“The supply can run for only three hours,” said Thakur in a tweet directed at the central government and prime minister Narendra Modi. “There are more than 7,000 active cases in the area and more than 3,000 people require oxygen supply daily.”

Though over 108 million people have been vaccinated so far, in a country of 1.3bn it has not been enough to curb the second wave. On Tuesday, the drugs controller general of India (DCGI), Dr VG Somani, approved the Russian Covid-19 vaccine, Sputnik V, for emergency use in India, with distribution likely to begin next month, and also cleared the way for Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson to be given approval.

Comment by Riaz Haq on April 20, 2021 at 10:19am

#UNICEF says #AstraZeneca #COVID19 vaccine supply problems outside #India resolved with #SouthKorea manufacturing the bulk of 65 million #vaccine doses reuters.com/world/india/exclusive-unicef-says-astrazeneca-supply-issues-outside-india-resolved-2021-04-20/

Problems that have delayed AstraZeneca (AZN.L) supplies to the COVAX vaccine-sharing facility have been resolved, UNICEF told Reuters on Tuesday, saying it should receive 65 million doses by end-May from manufacturers outside India.

The rollout of COVID vaccines has been disrupted by supply shortfalls in many countries, aggravated by a temporary hold on exports of the inoculation made by the Serum Institute of India (SII) as the country battles to contain a surge in infections. read more

"The initial challenges related to release of vaccines due to ramping up a new supply chain and production across different continents have now been resolved," the U.N. agency responsible for distributing vaccines through the programme told Reuters in an email.

"At this point, UNICEF expects around 65 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines from suppliers outside of India will be available for supply through the end of May to 80 countries."

COVAX is also holding talks with New Delhi for SII to resume supplies of the AstraZeneca vaccine, UNICEF said.

In addition to the 65 million doses expected from outside India, mostly made in South Korea, it also anticipates receiving 50 million doses next month from the SII compared with almost none this month.

COVAX had expected a total of more than 100 million doses from SII between February and May, excluding supplies for India, but has so far received only about 18.2 million.

As India battles its biggest jump in coronavirus infections and opens up vaccinations to all its adults from next month, SII is unlikely to be able to restart major exports soon.

"While discussions on the resumption of SII deliveries continue, COVAX will continue to transmit vaccines from other delivery partners," such as Pfizer (PFE.N)/BioNTech (22UAy.DE) or AstraZeneca outside India, UNICEF said.

"A number of shipments are currently being planned to ensure that all available supplies are put to use without delays following release from the manufacturers. Plans are also being laid to make up lost ground as soon as supply allows."

India this week approved an advance payment of about $400 million for SII, the world's biggest maker of vaccines, for it to expand its monthly capacity to more than 100 million doses by end-May from up to 70 million now.

India has so far administered more than 127 million vaccine doses, 91% of those the SII-made AstraZeneca drug. The other vaccine in use is domestically developed Covaxin.

Comment by Riaz Haq on April 24, 2021 at 7:27am

'Pakistan stands with India': Outpouring of empathy in #Pakistan as #India faces the worst of #pandemic. Politicians, journos & citizens across Pakistan express support and offered prayers for people in India hit by #COVID19 surge.#PakistanstandswithIndia https://www.dawn.com/news/1620101


Faisal Edhi offers help
A day earlier, Faisal Edhi, son of renowned philanthropist Abdul Sattar Edhi and chairman of the Edhi Foundation, penned a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi in which he expressed his concern on the Covid-19 crisis underway in India and offered his help in confronting the epidemic.

"We are very sorry to hear about the exceptionally heavy impact that the pandemic has had on your country, where a tremendous number of people are suffering immensely," said Faisal in his letter.

He said the Edhi Foundation sympathised with India during this difficult time and offered help in the form of "a fleet of 50 ambulances along with our services to assist you in addressing, and further circumventing, the current health conditions".

Faisal personally offered to lead and manage the humanitarian team from his organisation, said the letter.

It added that the Edhi Foundation understood the gravity of the situation and "we wish to lend you our full support, without any inconvenience to you, which is why we will arrange all the necessary supplies that our team needs to assist the people of India."

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On Saturday, #PakistanstandswithIndia and #Indianeedoxygen remained the top trends on Twitter for the second day as a record number of infections and deaths due to the novel coronavirus created an alarming situation in the neighbouring country.

In the past 24 hours, India reported 2,624 deaths — a new daily record — as well as more than 340,000 new cases. The country's deaths since the start of the pandemic rose to nearly 190,000 while its total cases reached 16.5 million, second only to the United States.

Over the last few days, Twitter has been flooded with Indians sharing harrowing stories of the struggle they faced while trying to find hospital beds and oxygen for their loved ones.


Mainstream media has also covered the desperate situation in several Indian cities where many have died waiting in line to get medical attention as hospitals have reached capacity and medical oxygen remains in short supply. Dozens of Covid positive critical patients have died in the Indian capital alone after hospitals ran out of oxygen.

Reports suggest crematoriums in Delhi have run out of space, forcing people to wait for hours, even days along with the bodies of their loved ones to ensure their final rites are carried out.

Reacting to the situation, Prime Minister Imran Khan expressed Pakistan's solidarity with India, saying: "Our prayers for a speedy recovery go to all those suffering from the pandemic in our neighbourhood & the world."

The premier said "we must fight this global challenge confronting humanity together."

Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi too expressed his support to people in India amid the intensifying second wave which he said had hit the South Asian region hard.

"On behalf of the people of Pakistan, I extend our heartfelt sympathies to the affected families in #India," he tweeted.

Qureshi said the pandemic was a reminder that "humanitarian issues require responses beyond political consideration", adding that Pakistan continued to work with Saarc (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) to increase cooperation to tackle Covid-19.

Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry said prayers of Pakistani citizens were with the people of India, adding: "May God be kind and may these difficult times get over soon."

Minister for Human Rights Shireen Mazari said it was "painful" to see the suffering of Indian people as they grappled with the coronavirus and oxygen shortages.

Comment by Riaz Haq on April 24, 2021 at 11:01am

@narendramodi tweeted at 9:32 PM on April 29, 2014:

"India needs a strong Government. Modi does not matter. I can go back & open a tea stall.But the nation can't suffer anymore"


Time for #Modi to go back to being chai-wala again! #CovidIndia

https://twitter.com/haqsmusings/status/1386014510960451584?s=20

Comment by Riaz Haq on April 25, 2021 at 10:11am

Gasping for breath, #Indians die in the streets, as #COVID surges to new global records. Politicians are still holding political rallies for current elections, and allowed millions to attend a recent #KumbhMela #Hindu festival #Modi #BJP #Hindutva #India https://www.abc.net.au/radio/programs/pm/indians-die-in-the-streets...

India's daily COVID case numbers surged to 315,000 in one day, a new global record. Deaths in one day were 2,000, officials say, but journalist Shadab Nazmi says the real number could be multiple times greater. He cites the scene at funeral grounds where he says hundreds of dead bodies await cremation. Describing the crisis as "beyond comprehension," Shadab says he is also fielding multiple requests daily for help finding oxygen and ICU beds, both of which are in short supply as the health system crumbles. "People are dying on the streets, gasping for oxygen, such a basic part of the heatlh care infrastructure, people should not be in this position," he says. Despite it all, politicians are still holding political rallies for current elections, and allowed millions to attend a recent Hindu festival. "Government is at complete fault," he says, for ignoring what was to come, and for failing to stop super-spreader events.

Comment by Riaz Haq on May 1, 2021 at 5:01pm

#Indian #COVIDー19 #vaccine maker Adar Poonawalla flees to #UK after threats from "powerful" politicians. “‘Threats’ is an understatement. The level of expectation and aggression is really unprecedented.” He wants to move #manufacturing elsewhere. #SII https://www.nytimes.com/2021/05/01/world/adar-poonawalla-vaccine-in...


In recent months, the chief executive of Serum Institute of India, the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer, has come under increasingly intense pressure as both pro-government voices and leaders of the state governments headed by opposition politicians criticized him.

Some accused him for delays in supplying vaccines; some called him a “profiteer” for not offering Covid-19 vaccines to state governments at cost. There were calls for his company to be nationalized.

In an interview with The Times of London published on Saturday, the executive, Adar Poonawalla, described menacing calls from some of the most powerful men in India, creating an environment so ugly that he anticipated being out of the country for an extended period while he made plans to start producing vaccines elsewhere.

“‘Threats’ is an understatement,” Mr. Poonawalla said. “The level of expectation and aggression is really unprecedented.”

The interview reported that he had flown into London to join his wife and children hours before Britain barred travelers from India on April 23.

“I’m staying here an extended time, because I don’t want to go back to that situation,” he added. “Everything falls on my shoulders, but I can’t do it alone.”

The interview set off a storm on social media, with some interpreting his interest in manufacturing outside India as a threat to move his business and others seeing him as having been driven out of the country by the viciousness of his critics.

Within hours, Mr. Poonawalla wrote on Twitter that he would be returning to India “in a few days.”


The New York Times was unable to reach Mr. Poonawalla directly on Saturday, and a request for comment from his company was not immediately returned.


India, the world’s leading producer of vaccines, is struggling to vaccinate itself out of a crisis as a voracious second wave leaves a tableau of death and despair. When cases were relatively low, the country exported more than 60 million shots. On Saturday, India expanded vaccination eligibility to all people over age 18, but many states said that they would not be able to meet the demand because of a shortage of doses.

Less than 2 percent of India’s 940 million adults have been fully vaccinated, according to data compiled from government sources by the Our World in Data project at the University of Oxford. The country’s biggest city, Mumbai, just halted all vaccinations because it essentially ran out, and several states reported vaccine shortages as well.

All that has made Mr. Poonawalla, a 40-year-old billionaire, a focus for public anger.

Last month, Serum Institute wrote a letter to India’s federal home minister asking for security, citing the threats to Mr. Poonawalla. Just a few days ago, the federal government said it had completed a threat assessment and would have the Central Reserve Police Force protect him. On the same day, Mr. Poonawalla announced on Twitter that he was unilaterally lowering the cost of a Covid vaccine to make it more affordable for government purchas

Comment by Riaz Haq on May 3, 2021 at 5:41pm

#India #Covid Crisis: The End of #Modi’s Global Dreams. The mishandling of the #pandemic has dealt #NewDelhi a weaker hand in ongoing talks with #Islamabad and border negotiations with #Beijing. #BJP #Coronavirus #Hindutva #Islamophobia #China #Pakistan https://foreignpolicy.com/2021/05/03/india-vishwaguru-modi-second-w...


Indians are currently dealing with a humanitarian catastrophe of Modi’s making. New Delhi’s ambitions to be a global power have been dealt a blow. Under Modi, Jaishankar once boasted, diplomacy “is having many balls up in the air at the same time and displaying the confidence and dexterity to drop none.” Now that all the balls are lying on the floor, the country will need humility, honesty, and extraordinary effort to pick them up and start again.
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Modi, who has consistently campaigned on virulent nationalism captured by the slogan “Atmanirbhar Bharat” (or self-reliant India), has been forced to abruptly change policy. Last week, with images of people dying on roads without oxygen and crematoriums for pet dogs being used for humans’ last rites as the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic overwhelmed the country, his government accepted offers of help from nearly 40 other nations. Its diplomats have lobbied with foreign governments for oxygen plants and tankers, the arrival of medicines, and other supplies hailed on social media. “We have given assistance; we are getting assistance,” said Harsh Vardhan Shringla, the country’s top diplomat, to justify the embarrassing U-turn. “It shows an interdependent world. It shows a world that is working with each other.”

The world may be working with each other, but it is not working for Modi in the realm of foreign policy. Rather, this is a moment of reckoning, triggered by the rampaging coronavirus. After seven years as prime minister, Modi’s hyper-nationalistic domestic agenda—including his ambition of making the country a “Vishwaguru” (or master to the world)—now lies in tatters.

India, which has been envisaged since former U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration became the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue’s lynchpin and focused other efforts in the Indo-Pacific strategy to counter China, will have to work harder to justify that role. Meanwhile, China has redoubled its efforts in India’s neighborhood since the second wave began, strengthening its existing ties with South Asian countries and contrasting its strength and reliability with India’s limitations.

----------------

In March, when the second wave of the pandemic started unfolding in India, Jaishankar’s ministry was busy issuing official statements and organizing social media storms against popstar Rihanna and climate change activist Greta Thunberg. On Thursday, at the peak of the health crisis, Jaishankar’s focus in a meeting with all the Indian ambassadors to various global capitals was on countering the so-called “one-sided” narrative in international media, which said Modi’s government had failed the country by its “incompetent” handling of the second pandemic wave.

Until recently, Jaishankar was also the most enthusiastic promoter of the government’s Vaccine Maitri (or “Vaccine Friendship”) program, under which New Delhi supplied around 66.4 million doses of the India-made AstraZeneca vaccine to 95 countries in packing boxes marked prominently with large pictures of Modi. These vaccines were either commercially contracted, given as bilateral grants, or transferred under the World Health Organization’s COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access (COVAX) scheme for poorer countries. Meanwhile, India’s own vaccination rollout has been dismal. Around 2 percent of Indians have been fully vaccinated, despite the country being the world’s biggest vaccine manufacturer—a misstep that has emerged as one of the key culprits for India’s uncontrolled second wave.

Comment by Riaz Haq on June 5, 2021 at 5:19pm

India’s suspect ‘Quad’ credentials. #COVID19 #pandemic has brutally exposed the hollowness of #India’s pretensions to power, status and influence and boasts of being a #vaccine superpower and #pharmacy to the world. #Quad #Modi #US #China #Hindutva #BJP https://www.japantimes.co.jp/opinion/2021/06/05/commentary/world-co...

A chain is only as strong as its weakest link. The Quadrilateral Security Dialogue process brings together Japan, Australia, India and the United States as an informal grouping of democracies to cooperate around the vast and critical Indo-Pacific maritime space.
India has always been the weakest link in the chain. Its sizable armed forces equipped with nuclear weapons are a bulwark against China’s much superior military might. Still, it’s a very poor country with a per capita income of only 3% to 5% of the other three; a weak state with limited capacity to govern a billion plus population; and a soft state without the political will to make and implement tough decisions.
The second wave of COVID-19 in April and May is India’s biggest national tragedy and international embarrassment since partition in 1947. The national and world press covered this in graphic detail (more than they would in their own countries), with images of people gasping to death on the streets, bodies piled up awaiting last rites and cremation and mass numbers of corpses floating in the Ganges River, many of which having washed up on its banks. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s carefully cultivated competence bubble has been punctured by the open display of mass ineptitude.
In the wake of this stark and grim reminder of its manifold pathologies and weaknesses, the question must be asked: at which point would India become a liability rather than an asset for the other “Quad” partners? The question is important because the other three are bound together in formal alliances by security treaties and India is not, demonstrating less commitment.
The excitement, expectations and hopes of the Modi government in 2014, with promises of “minimum government, maximum governance” and “sabka sath, sabka viswas, sabka vikash” (with all, with everyone’s trust, development for all), are fading memories. On June 1, India’s official COVID-19 deaths per million was 238 compared to the world average of 457, the U.S. at 1,832, the U.K. at 1,873 and Brazil reporting 2,163.
The crux of the problem thus is not the unmitigated spread of COVID-19 but the lack of a fit-for-purpose public health infrastructure and the availability of medical supplies, equipment and drugs. India is a sobering reminder of why a strong economy is not an optional luxury but an essential requirement for good health.
Modi’s neglect of urgent economic and governance reforms in addition to requirements for a good public health infrastructure — choosing instead to go into a semipermanent campaign mode in every state election and focusing on a Hindu nationalist agenda — further aggravated the COVID-19 misery.
People’s health is vitally dependent on a healthy economy that gives the government the financial wherewithal to create an efficient universal-access public health system. No country achieves better health outcomes by becoming poorer.
The pandemic, for its part, hastened an economic decline that had already begun. According to World Bank figures, India’s annual GDP growth tumbled from 8.3% in 2016 to 4.2% in 2019. It contracted by 7.3% in 2020–2021 and the 2021 GDP forecast has been downgraded by around 17% — the worst among the G20 countries.
India got the worst of both worlds: a smashed economy and a massive COVID-19 toll that peaked in May with the official count recording nearly 400,000 daily new cases and over 4,000 daily new deaths. Recovery will be a long haul on both the disease and the economy front.

Comment by Riaz Haq on June 9, 2021 at 7:15am

#Pakistan administers 10 millionth #Covid #vaccine dose. Plans to inoculate 70 million #Pakistanis by year-end. Pakistan's #coronavirus positivity rate at 2.54% in the past 24 hours — the 2nd day in a row that the positivity rate remained below 3% https://www.dawn.com/news/1628416

Pakistan administered the 10 millionth Covid-19 vaccine dose on Wednesday, with Federal Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Minister Asad Umar announcing that the authorities aimed to inoculate 70 million people by the end of this year.

He said around 300,000 people were registering themselves for vaccination against Covid-19 on a daily basis and urged people to get inoculated so that the government may ease Covid-19 restrictions.

The minister added that precautionary measures taken during the third wave of the pandemic in the country had shown positive results and a visible reduction in Covid-19 positivity rate.

Pakistan's coronavirus positivity rate has been recorded as 2.54 per cent in the past 24 hours — the second day in a row that the positivity rate remained below 3pc. According to the health ministry, 43,900 tests were conducted during the last 24 hours after which 1,118 people tested positive.

Besides, 335,790 people were administered Covid-19 vaccines on Tuesday, according to the National Command and Control Centre (NCOC).

“The more [people] we vaccinate, the better we will be protected [against Covid-19],” Umar said, appealing to people to increasingly participate in the vaccination campaign.

Federal Information and Broadcasting Minister Fawad Chaudhry, who accompanied Umar on the occasion of the administration of the 10 millionth dose, tweeted: "We have reached the milestone of administering the vaccine to 10 million people [sic]."


He also lauded the government, particularly Prime Minister Imran Khan and the NCOC, for the way it battled the pandemic.


A day earlier, Umar had announced that a call centre was being established to contact people who had not been administered the second dose of the vaccine and convince them to complete their vaccination, as reports emerged that around 300,000 recipients of the first dose had never returned to receive their second jab of the Covid-19 vaccine.

PakVac
Last week 120,000 doses of the locally manufactured PakVac vaccine — produced from the concentrate of Cansino vaccine — were launched in the country.

Announcing the production of PakVac, the government had said in a tweet that three million doses of the vaccine would be manufactured per month.

The PakVac vaccine has been developed by China's state-run pharmaceutical company Cansino and is being brought to Pakistan in a concentrated form, where it is packaged at the National Institute of Health (NIH) in Islamabad. Cansino was the first Chinese vaccine to have undergone clinical trial in Pakistan and was administered to around 18,000 people.

The company's interim efficacy results of a multi-country trial, which included Pakistan, showed the vaccine had a 65.7 per cent efficacy in preventing symptomatic coronavirus cases and a 90.98per cent success rate in stopping severe infections.

In the Pakistani subset, the efficacy of the vaccine at preventing symptomatic cases stood at 74.8per cent and 100per cent at preventing severe disease.

The launch of the first batch of PakVac doses coincided with the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan authorising the use of American Pfizer vaccine for emergency use.

The decision came in the wake of Pakistan receiving the first batch of Pfizer doses in May, when 100,000 doses were delivered under the World Health Organisation's global shared vaccine programme, Covax.

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