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Pakistan approves Oxford-AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine

The head of Pakistan's national agency for COVID-19, told a local news channel that the vaccine in the first phase will be administered to health workers and those aged 65 and above.

January 17, 2021 / 12:41 PM IST
File image: Workers spray disinfectant while sanitizing a mosque amid the coronavirus pandemic in Peshawar, Pakistan on May 21, 2020. (Image: Reuters/Fayaz Aziz)

File image: Workers spray disinfectant while sanitizing a mosque amid the coronavirus pandemic in Peshawar, Pakistan on May 21, 2020. (Image: Reuters/Fayaz Aziz)

Pakistan’s planning minister says the country’s drug regulatory authority has approved the use of Oxford-AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine and the government is trying to make it available by the first quarter of the year.

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Asad Umar, who is also the head of the national agency for COVID-19, told Geo TV that the vaccine in the first phase will be administered to health workers and those aged 65 and above.

Umar said the Chinese company CanSino is also holding clinical trials in Pakistan and hoped its vaccine would also be registered next month.

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COVID-19 Vaccine

Frequently Asked Questions

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How does a vaccine work?

A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.

How many types of vaccines are there?

There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.

What does it take to develop a vaccine of this kind?

Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.

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He said Pakistan will get the vaccines through the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization, or GAVI, and other alternative international sources. The AstraZeneca vaccine is being prepared in India, which has strained relations with rival Pakistan and says it will prioritize its own population.

Pakistan reported 2,521 new cases and 43 deaths in the last 24 hours.

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Associated Press
first published: Jan 17, 2021 12:41 pm

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