Islamabad: Scores of volunteers from across Pakistan are flocking to research hospitals to join the final-stage clinical trials of a Chinese-made vaccine for coronavirus.
This is the first time Pakistan has participated in such a trial, and this comes as a series of aggressive vaccines announced by a Western pharmaceutical company this month.
The vaccine was developed by CanSinoBio and the Beijing Institute of Biotechnology in China.
“I have volunteered myself for a noble cause that will help humanity,” said a volunteer at Islamabad’s Shifa hospital, where hundreds of participants are being paid about $50 for their trouble.
Others should “step forward and take part in this noble cause which will save lives,” he added.
For years, China has focused much of its attention in Pakistan on mammoth development projects, bankrolling the construction of roads, power plants and a strategic port.
Beijing has now tapped one of its closest allies to participate in the vaccine trials, despite Pakistan’s chequered history with inoculation campaigns.
“We hope to have some findings ready about the accuracy and efficacy of the vaccine in two to three months,” Ejaz Ahmad Khan, the principal researcher overseeing the trial in Pakistan, told AFP.
Officials said Pakistan has already inoculated about 7,000 of the 10,000 participants expected to receive a jab.
These trials are accompanied by intensive care units across the country approaching production capacity. This is the second more deadly spread of the coronavirus. Officials have tried to resist the public’s indifference to the pandemic.
Since late February, the country has confirmed 382,000 cases and more than 7,800 deaths.
In less than a year since the coronavirus that has claimed 1.4 million lives began to spread globally, many highly promising COVID-19 vaccines are about to come out.
Four separate drug makers have recently announced that their vaccines are effective for most people.
Due to lingering suspicions over vaccines, Pakistan is one of just two countries where polio continues to spread, sparking fears that a new drive to inoculate the population against the coronavirus will fail.
The Chinese vaccine is also undergoing phase 3 trials — or large-scale testing on humans — in several other nations including China, Russia, Chile, Argentina and Saudi Arabia.