LAHORE - Federal Minister For Planning Asad Umar said Saturday that phase 3 trial of a Chinese vaccine for coronavirus will begin in Pakistan in ‘10 days’.

“Pakistan will be participating in phase 3 trials of a Chinese developed vaccine for coronavirus,” tweeted the minister. He added that the “trials in Pakistan will start in about 10 days time”.

Earlier this week it was reported, that the falling COVID-19 infection numbers in Pakistan will not affect a Phase 3 clinical trial for a potential vaccine being developed by China’s CanSino Biologics. The report had also said that trials will begin this month, according to officials running the trial.

Pakistan’s drug regulator last month gave the go-ahead for the country’s first Phase 3 clinical trial for CanSino’s candidate, Ad5-nCoV, which will be led by the government-run National Institute of Health (NIH) along with pharmaceutical company AJM — the local representative of CanSino. “We are planning to launch the project on September 20, or at the latest within this month,” Hassan Abbas Zaheer, who is heading the trial for AJM.

The Ad5-nCoV vaccine and placebo injections are due to be received in Pakistan next week. Daily positive cases in Pakistan peaked at more than 6,000 in June, but have since fallen sharply, with only 426 confirmed new cases detected on September 8 — taking its total to 299,659 and 6,359 deaths.

Zaheer said the low positive rates did not indicate COVID-19 was no longer present in the country, and the potential for people vaccinated in the trial to be infected was still adequate for testing their immunity. “We feel people are still getting infected but not getting tested, so the virus is still there,” he said. 

Pakistan, a country of more than 220 million people, has been testing between 20,000 to 30,000 daily.