ISLAMABAD   -   A national consultative meeting on novel coronavirus (Covid-19) vaccine in the country concluded here yesterday with a consensus for a timely response and effective decision-making about vaccine and adequate implementation plan for its administration.

The consultative meeting was organized by the Health and Population Think Tank (HPTT), Health Services Academy, Ministry of National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination, says a statement issued by the health ministry.

All the stakeholders, leadership from the Federal and Provincial Health Departments, Ministry of Science and Technology, Ministry of Education, National Command and Control Center (NCOC), Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP), pharmaceutical sector and technical experts on infectious diseases from the National Institute of Health (NIH) and Aga Khan University and others attended the meeting.

International experts on COVID-19 Vaccine from Bill and Malinda Gates Foundation, Food and Drug Administration Authority provided technical input on the latest Covid-19 developments and regulatory frameworks. 

The discussion commenced by informing the participants about the political perspectives engulfing Covid-19 vaccine and its international standing. The regulatory framework and practices were discussed to comply with the global safety standards. 

A detailed discussion took place on how should the communication strategies be shaped and developed, knowing the perception challenges of COVID-19 vaccine in Pakistan and the development of fast-track transparent system for approval and registration of COVID-19 vaccine.

Speaking on the occasion, Dr. Faisal Sultan, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister (SAPM) on NHSR&C, affirmed his firm commitment to ensure timely availability of COVID-19 vaccine that complies with the global standards of safety and efficacy, once it is approved globally.   

Dr. Anita Zaidi, Director of Vaccine Development, discussed how the Covid-19 vaccine development became a geopolitical issue rather than purely technical vaccine development challenge. She briefed about various challenges and potential solutions related to Covid-19 vaccine management. 

Dr Sarfraz K Niazi, Advisor on Vaccine Regulations, apprised on the regulatory challenges affiliated with the Covid-19 vaccine. 

Vice Chancellor of HSA and Chair of the National Vaccine Committee apprised the participants about the progress on the issues of Covid-19 vaccine development, registration and implementation.  

Other participants highlighted the issues of equity, effective communication strategies, gender based distribution, costs and subsidies for Covid-19 vaccine.

The meeting was concluded by the technical lead of the think tank with a consensus for a timely response and effective decision-making for vaccine selection, regulation, deployment to priority groups and adequate implementation plan for Covid-19 vaccine in Pakistan.