The First Shipment Of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine Comprising 106,000 Doses Through COVAX Reached Islamabad On Friday.

The first shipment of Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 mRNA vaccine comprising 106,000 doses through COVAX reached Islamabad on Friday, officials said. “Yes, the first shipment of Pfizer’s mRNA vaccine through COVAX has just landed in Islamabad. The shipment comprises 106,000 doses,” Dr. Akram Shah, National Program Manager of Expanded Program on Immunization (EPI), told The News on Friday.

The Pfizer-BioNTech’s vaccine doses were supposed to reach Pakistan in the first week of June, National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination (NHS,R&C) officials said but added that the shipment arrived earlier than their expectations.

Ironically, the Pakistani drug regulatory authorities have not yet authorized the mRNA vaccine for use in Pakistan, officials at the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP) said but added that Pfizer has applied for the Emergency Use Authorization of its mRNA-technology based vaccine in the country. “A committee of experts is currently reviewing its safety and efficacy data and would present its recommendations to the DRAP for authorization in the country,” an official of DRAP said.

The official maintained that the registration board of regulatory authority would review the recommendations of the expert committee in the first week of June and grant emergency use authorization to the vaccine. “We have already acquired and installed 23 Ultra Cold Chain (UCC) Refrigerators throughout Pakistan to store the mRNA vaccine,” an official of the National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination (NHS,R&C) said.

The double-dose Pfizer vaccine has a shelf life of six months when stored at minus-75C (minus-103F), which represents a logistical challenge in many countries as it requires specialised freezers but officials in Pakistan said they had already taken care of the storage issue by installing 23 Ultra Cold Chain freezers at 16 locations across Pakistan.

The official said with the financial assistance from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) available with the UNICEF, Pakistan has procured 23 Ultra Cold Chain (UCC) Refrigerators, which have been installed in the federal capital and all the federating units to store the mRNA vaccine from Pfizer BioNtech and in future other vaccines that require special storage arrangements. “These Ultra Cold Chain Refrigerators along with special air conditioners from China had arrived at the Karachi Port several weeks back and now they are fully functional. These special refrigerators would be used to store the Pfizer BioNtech and other vaccines in future,” the official added.

This news was originally published at The News.