Pakistan gives go-ahead to phase-III trials of Covid-19 vaccine

Islamabad, 18 Aug (efe-epa).- Pakistan’s drug regulator on Tuesday authorized the country’s health ministry to carry out phase III clinical trials of a potential coronavirus vaccine originally developed in China, health official said,

According to authorities, the trials are expected to begin next month after the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP) approved the process..

“The Chinese firm has already launched it (trial) in China and other countries but in Pakistan this will be the first ever phase III clinical trial of any corona(virus) vaccine,” Mumtaz Ali, a spokesperson for the National Institute of Health (NIH), told EFE.

According to the official, the ministry of national health services regulation and coordination has received formal approval for testing the vaccine candidate Ad5-nCoV, jointly developed by Chinese developer CanSinoBio and the Beijing Institute of Biotechnology.

CanSino was among the first companies worldwide to move to human trials, announced as far back as March.

The NIH will lead the trial along with pharmaceutical company AJM Pharma, the local representative of CanSinoBio.

The study will be conducted at the Shaukat Khanum Memorial Hospital in the western city of Lahore, the Aga Khan Medical University and Indus Hospital in the southern port city of Karachi and the Shifa International Hospital in capital Islamabad, Ali said.

“We were working on this for some time with Chinese firms and were now only waiting for the clearance from the DRAP, which was given now,” he added.

According to official data, Pakistan has witnessed a sharp decline in COVID-19 cases since hitting a peak in June.

The country has so far registered 289,832 cases of the disease and 6,190 deaths, with 15 deaths and 617 cases reported in the last 24 hours.

Authorities had reopened all economic sectors on Aug. 10, allowing restaurants, parks, gyms, cinema halls, and public and air transport to resume regular activity after five months of restrictions due to the pandemic.

However, wedding halls and schools are expected to remain closed until Sep. 15.

The government has attributed the improvement in the pandemic situation to its “smart lockdown” strategy, where only those streets or neighborhoods were quarantined where outbreaks of the coronavirus were recorded. EFE-EPA


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