The Association of Physicians of Pakistani-descent of North America steps in for the decision of COVID-19 vaccine in Pakistan.

By Sayyed Shehzer Abbas

Reports claimed that Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP) approved the proposal for pricing of COVID-19 vaccine in Pakistan. The proposal suggested that the importers of the vaccines would be allowed forty percent mark up profit whereas the retailers would be provided with additional fifteen percent mark-up. According to this proposal, the price for two doses of the Sputnik-V vaccine has been fixed at Rs. 8,449 and that for a single dose of the Cansino Biologics vaccine at Rs. 4,225.

APPNA stepped in with an argument of providing a life-saving treatment on such high rates in a poor country like Pakistan. This fifty five percent profit margin cannot be justified and there is no proper reasoning for distribution of the vaccine at such high rates.

APPNA reported that thirty to forty percent of the population of Pakistan in living below poverty line. Such inflated rates of the COVID-19 vaccine will not only make these beyond the reach of a large proportion of the population but also put many lives in risk.

Pakistan recently got hit with the third wave of COVID-19 and vaccine seems to be the only way of getting control of the pandemic. Every single person deserves to become immune to this virus, but the approval of this proposal might take away the hope of almost half of the population of the country. Vaccines are life-saving products that must not be used for profiteering.

APPNA suggested the government to review the approval and import the vaccines on their own that would help in negotiating favorable rates with the manufacturers. In an ideal situation, these vaccines should be provided free of cost to the citizens of Pakistan. But keeping financial crisis of the country in mind, it should be made available to the population at no more than cost without any profit margins.

Moreover, APPNA suggested that the COVID-19 vaccine should be delivered and administrated under the health departments governed by the central and provincial governments. Furthermore, meetings of regulatory authorities such as DRAP needs to be live telecasted for the sake of transparency.

The prices of COVID-19 vaccines have been fixed but these issues might force the government in revising its decision.