Too early to conduct vaccine trials in Pakistan

April 25, 2020

ISLAMABAD - Special Assistant to Prime Minister (SAPM) on National Health Services (SAPM) Dr Zafar Mirza on Friday said it is “too early” to go for the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine trials in the country.

The top health official in his message on social media said “about vaccine for COVID-19: Pakistan has been approached by Chinese company for possible trials. We have asked for more info which [we] will evaluate through relevant experts from safety, ethics, regulation and feasibility perspectives before deciding. “Too early to say anything.” Earlier, Executive Director (ED) National Institute of Health (NIH) Maj Gen Aamir Ikram had said that “we will be the part of clinical trials with China.”

A senior official of the Ministry of National Health Services (NHS) commenting about the COVID-19 vaccine trials in the country following the statements given by SAPM on NHS Mirza and ED NIH said that it was indeed too early for clinical trials. He said that “there are particular guidelines of World Health Organization (WHO) about the trials.”Official said that the Ministry of NHS could not go in haste for clinical trials without preparation of all scientifically required procedures.

Meanwhile scientists of biological sciences viewed that government should go for clinical trials, but data sharing must be done which is an international standard for developing and administrating of a vaccine. Pharmacist and former secretary biological drugs Dr. Obaid Ali talking to The Nation said that government should follow the ‘mutual reliance’ policy if it is confident that China has developed the vaccine and is ready for human trials.

“There should be ‘double blind’ formula under which some people will be vaccinated in Pakistan and equal number will be administered in China by Pakistani scientists,” he said. Dr. Obaid said that if China has completed phase-I and Phase-II then Pakistan has the option of not wasting time and collaborating, but following all international standard scientific procedures.

Microbiologist from Lanzhou University China said that it is good that the government is concerned about the lab data of the vaccine. He said that the data must be shared before human trials. Dr. Kamran said that similarly, all the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) to conduct trials on local patients should also be mutually decided and approved by legal experts as well.

He said, moreover, the patients who will be the subject for this vaccine should be also aware of the possible consequences and must agree to have the trials conducted on them.The NIH in collaboration with China had decided to conduct clinical trials of inactivated novel coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccines in the country. Executive Director (ED) NIH Maj General Prof Aamer Ikram and General Manager China Sinopharm International Corporation in this regard held a correspondence for the clinical trials and agreed for expediting the documentation.

In a letter written to the Sinopharm International, ED NIH said that that “our two organizations have already been collaborating in vaccine development in Pakistan. Through our representative HealthBee projects private limited, we would like to extend our offer for cooperation on conducting clinical trials of our recently developed inactivated COVID-19 vaccine to the National Institute of Health in our brotherly country, Pakistan.” The letter said that “PRC (Peoples Republic of China), Phase-I and Phase –II for clinical trial have been combined. We recommend and hope that Pakistan will adopt a similar approach through its regulatory authority.

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