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Pakistan permits Chinese, Russian vaccines for above 60 age group

KARACHI: In a major development, Pakistan health authorities allowed vaccination of people above 60 years of age with Chinese vaccine Sinopharm as well as Russian vaccine Sputnik V, local media reported.

The decision was taken on the recommendations of an expert committee on vaccines.

“The Registration Board of Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP) has allowed vaccination of people above 60 years of age against COVID-19 with Chinese vaccine Sinopharm and Russian vaccine Sputnik V, which was earlier prohibited due to lack of data on their safety and efficacy among the elderly,” an official of the National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination (NHS,R&C) told media.

Pakistan is currently vaccinating its frontline healthcare workers with Chinese vaccine Sinopharm, which was earlier declared ‘not suitable, not recommended’ for people above 60 years of age, drawing the ire of senior healthcare professionals.

An official of the National Health Services told The News that based on the data of safety and efficacy of Sinopharm vaccine received from China, use by the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, an expert committee comprising six leading infectious diseases specialists, vaccinologists and pathologists have recommended the use of Sinopharm vaccine among people above 60 years of age in Pakistan.

The official said the expert committee has also authorized the use of Russian vaccine Sputnik V among people above 60 years of age and added that the decision was taken on the basis of data received from the Russian manufacturer Gamaleya Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology.

The registration board of the DRAP, however, has recommended monitoring the condition of the elderly at least for 48 hours after the vaccine jab for any adverse effect following immunization (AEFI), the official said adding that it has also been recommended that elderly should also follow all the precautionary measures including masks, social distancing and hand hygiene even after immunization.

The federal health officials said they would be revising the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for the Sinopharm Vaccine (Vero Cell) sent to all the Adult Vaccination Centers (AVCs) once they receive the recommendations of the DRAP’s registration board in letter and spirit.

Although, the vaccine is being allowed for the elderly, it should not be considered an alternate for wearing a mask, physical distancing and observing other SOPs for Covid-19 prevention, they warned.

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