Rabies vaccine crisis worsens as Indian makers stop supplies to Pakistan

Pakistan is facing a severe shortage of the Anti-Rabies Vaccine (ARV), that is generally  imported from India these days.

Rabies vaccine crisis worsens as Indian makers stop supplies to Pakistan

Indian Anti-Rabies Vaccine (ARV) makers stop supplies to Pakistan due to ongoing tension between two South Asian nations citing an increased domestic demand. 

The major consequence is that one of the leading Indian biotech firms has reduced its production while their government is denying visas to Pakistan officials and importers to deal with other vaccine manufacturers.

There is a worldwide crisis regarding the availability of anti-rabies vaccine due to recall of Chinese vaccine from the market due to safety concerns. In the absence of Chinese vaccine, India used to fill the gap, but now Indians are unable to meet their own demands so they have reduced ARV exports to other countries, including Pakistan.

With an unprecedented rise in dog-bite cases, health institutions in Pakistan including Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre (JPMC), PPHI (People’s Primary Healthcare Initiative), Civil Hospital Karachi (CHK), Indus Hospital and many private health facilities and JPMC, which has the largest dog-bite centre in Karachi are facing a delicate shortage of anti-rabies vaccine (ARV) they are unable to acquire the vaccine.

In the interior of Sindh, several children have died in Larkana, Sukkur and the adjoining areas in the recent weeks due to rabies, as they could not be given the ARV and immunoglobulin due to its shortage in the market.

Dog-bite cases are on the rise and every day dozens of people are brought to casualty for vaccination but were now unable to acquire the ARV vaccine and from now onwards, only a few and extremely serious patients would be vaccinated in case of dog-bite incidents.

Pakistani institutions are using anti- rabies vaccines, including Indirab from the Bharat Biotech, Abhayrab from the Human Immunological Limited and Equirab manufactured by the Bharat Serums and Vaccines Limited, but all of them have almost stopped the ARV supplies.

 So, the Pakistan pharmaceutical companies are establishing their manufacturing plants in Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Vietnam and African countries.

The federal authorities should intervene and arrange the ARV on an emergency basis, and steps should be taken for its local production as even Bangladesh is manufacturing dog-bite and anti-snake venom vaccines. When Indians and Bangladeshis can produce the vaccine, why can’t we do so in Pakistan?

The federal  authorities are working day and night to meet the demand for anti-rabies vaccine and are switching from one to other vaccine with each passing day to vaccinate dog-bite victims. But it is becoming very hard as supplies from the manufacturers have stopped.