ISLAMABAD    -   As the COVID-19 cases are on the decline in the country, Pakistan is going to participate in phase 3 trials of a Chinese-developed vaccine for coronavirus.

The trials in Pakistan are about to start, according to the officials. Minister for Planning, Asad Umar has also confirmed that Pakistan will be participating soon in phase-3 trials of the Chinese-developed vaccine for coronavirus.

The world is in the midst of COVID-19 pandemic and racing to find a vaccine. Situation in Pakistan is a mix of bit satisfaction and fear looming over in case the SOPs are not followed. At this critical time, educational institutions have also been reopened that may possibly lead to surge in the Covid cases. Pursuant to reporting of more than 16 confirmed COVID-19 cases, a private medical university’s I-14 Campus in Islamabad was sealed by the district administration on Tuesday. 

The officials fear that Covid-19 cases may resurge in the country if precautionary measures are not taken. Deputy Commissioner Islamabad is on record that, “Covid patients are on the rise in Islamabad.” 

Meanwhile, World Health Organization (WHO) is all praise for Pakistan for fighting COVID-19. It listed Pakistan among the 7 countries the world can learn from to fight future pandemics, a big achievement in terms of measures and policy. 

According to the WHO, Pakistan has successfully flattened the coronavirus curve despite its dilapidated health infrastructure while the deadly contagion is spreading uncontrollably in several developed countries of the world. Covid-19, the respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus, has sickened 27.5 million people across the globe and killed over 934,000 people since its outbreak in December last year.

Pakistan government took hard decisions though at some occasions, it was blamed for incompetency and mismanagement, especially the Iran border episode. The dedication of health workers also helped bring the outbreak under control in the country. Pakistan’s fight against Covid-19 speaks volumes of the nation’s determination and resolve while the most developed countries are still struggling to deal with the pandemic. 

WHO and partners have been working together on tracking the pandemic, advising on critical interventions, distributing vital medical supplies to those in need and they are racing to find a vaccine. Immunization currently prevents 2-3m deaths every year from diseases like diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, influenza and measles. There are now vaccines to prevent more than 20 life-threatening diseases, and work is ongoing at unprecedented speed to also make COVID-19 a vaccine-preventable disease.

There are currently over 169 COVID-19 vaccine candidates under development, with 26 of these in the human trial phase. WHO is working in collaboration with scientists, business, and global health organizations through the ACT Accelerator to speed up the pandemic response.

According to news reports, China coronavirus vaccine may be ready for public in November. According to the officials at Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Coronavirus vaccines being developed in China may be ready for use by the general public as early as November this year. China has four Covid-19 vaccines in the final stage of clinical trials. At least three of those have already been offered to essential workers under an emergency use programme launched in July. Phase-3 clinical trials were proceeding smoothly and the vaccines could be ready for the general public in November or December, according to the Chinese biosafety experts. They said that no abnormal symptoms have been experienced in recent months. The vaccine could be ready for public use by the end of this year after the conclusion of Phase-3 trials, according to the officials.

The global vaccine makers are racing to develop an effective vaccine against the virus which has killed more than 934,000 people so far. The Covid-19 is a virus and therefore, antibiotics should not be used as a means of prevention or treatment. However, one is hospitalized for the 2019-nCoV, he may receive antibiotics because bacterial infection is possible.

Renowned scientist and Chairman of Prime Minister’s Task Force on Science and Technolog, Dr Atta-ur-Rahman has also said that clinical trials of the proposed COVID-19 vaccine produced by a well-acclaimed international company will be started in Pakistan from next week. International Center for Chemical and Biological Sciences (ICCBS) based in University of Karachi has been approved for conducting clinical trials of the vaccine. The trials will be conducted in partnership with Indus Hospital, Karachi. He said usually it takes two to three months to complete clinical trials of the vaccine. He said in Pakistan, the clinical trials in the first phase, likely to start next week, will be completed in around three months. “The second phase of the clinical trials has already been done in China. While the third phase of trials will start after completion of the first phase and it will also take three months”, he said. The whole process of clinical trials (Phase-I and Phase III) will take six months after which the country will be able to manufacture the vaccine, if the results of the clinical trials come positive, he said.

When contacted, WHO officials in Islamabad declined to comment on the state of coronavirus in Pakistan and race for developing the vaccine. At present, the situation is under control with the authorities repeatedly issuing warnings that the virus may surge again if precautionary measures are not observed.