KARACHI: According to the country’s top health authorities, the Chinese manufactured Sinopharm vaccine is not suitable and recommended for people above the age of 60, under the age of 18, and specifically for pregnant women – among others.

According to Dr. Faisal Sultan, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister, people above 60 would be vaccinated with Oxford-AstraZeneca’s vaccine AZD1222, which is due for arrival in Pakistan in February, stating that “Astrazeneca and others – probably Pfizer’s vaccine are the most suitable option for the elderly. AstraZeneca’s vaccine is expected to reach Pakistan this month through Covax (international health alliance) while Pfizer’s vaccine in limited number may also be available in March this year”.

Dr. Sultan further clarified that pertaining to other suitable vaccine for the elderly and other vulnerable demographics, the Russian vaccine Sputnik and another Chinese vaccine Cansino, which have undergone experimental trials in Pakistan, could also be used to vaccinate the elderly and would be available in the country shortly.

According to Dr. Faisal Mehmood, an infectious diseases expert at Aga Khan University Hospital, the Chinese vaccine Sinopharm was not recommended for people above 60 years of age due to lack of safety and efficacy data in the elderly and added that its trials were underway to determine efficacy for the elderly, pregnant women and lactating mothers.

The Federal Health Ministry’s Expanded Programme on Immunisation (EPI) also issued operating procedures for the Sinopharm vaccine, warning that the vaccine should not be administered to individuals above 60 years of age, children below 18 years of age, and pregnant women – adding that women of childbearing age should avoid getting pregnant two months after the second dose of the vaccine.

Furthermore, patients who have received SARS-CoV-2 monoclonal antibodies or plasma, patients with pre-existing respiratory or cardiovascular diseases, patients with previous history of anaphylaxis and individuals who are allergic to any component of this vaccine, will not be eligible for the dosage.

And most importantly, officials added that the vaccination should not be considered an alternate for wearing a mask, physical distancing and observing other SOPs.


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