ISLAMABAD           -      Renowned Scientist and Chair­man of Prime Minister’s task force on Science and Technol­ogy, Dr Atta-ur-Rahman Sun­day said the approval was still awaited from Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP) to conduct clinical trials of the proposed internationally rec­ognized vaccine for COVID-19 in Pakistan.

He said the queries received from the DRAP on few matters have been addressed in time and sent back, he said while talking to APP on Sunday.

He said the application for conducting clinical trials of this vaccine produced by a well acclaimed international company was submitted to DRAP for approval. The clini­cal trials of that vaccine have been done internationally.

Dr. Atta-ur-Rahman said, “We were in contact with sev­eral international companies for vaccine production after which one of the major inter­national companies agreed to conduct clinical trials of their vaccination in Pakistan”.

Dr Atta-ur-Rahman who is also the chairman of PM’s Task Force on COVID-19 hoped that DRAP is expected to give approval of clinical trials of this vaccine shortly. The clinical trials will be con­ducted in our supervision soon after approval.

He said, “It takes three to four months to complete clinical trials of a vaccine and hopefully, if DRAP grants ap­proval within two weeks, the clinical trials will be complet­ed within next four months. If the results of these trials come positive, then the mass production of the vaccine can be started”.

Depending on the success results of this vaccine, it can be available in Pakistan between the months of December to March. As we are involved in all this process so we will get this vaccine by the company on preferential basis.

Listing some other mea­sures taken to tackle the challenge of COVID-19 at government level, Dr Atta-ur-Rahman said a major pro­gramme titled `PROTECT’ has been initiated to con­duct clinical trials of differ­ent internationally approved drugs including hydroxichlo­roquine, erthromycine in Pakistan.

This project of clinical trials of drugs, with the in­volvement of a dozen of in­stitutions of the country in­cluding hospitals, research institutions and universities, will help check the effective­ness of these drugs on our own population.

This will also reveal that to what extent these drugs can effectively fight against the type of COVID exists in our country, he said.

The clinical trials on these drugs were already in prog­ress in the other countries. Clinical trials of these drugs in Pakistan will help iden­tify those drugs which can be more helpful for treatment of COVID-19 patients.

Dr. Atta-ur-Rahman said the government was also taking strong measures to expand the testing facility.

Earlier, we were conduct­ing only 400 tests during the month of March and now the capacity has been increased up to 30,000 tests per day.

For this purpose, a number of laboratories were estab­lished including Punjab Foren­sic Science Agency in Lahore which is fully equipped to con­duct tests on a larger scale.

International Center for Chemical and Biological Sci­ences based in University of Karachi was also conducting tests on larger scales.

About the local manu­facturing of ventilators, Dr Atta-ur-Rahman said three designs of ventilators got ap­proval from DRAP out of 11 shortlisted. The prototypes of the selected designs are in process after which manu­facturing process will start.

The ventilators handed over to National Disaster Manage­ment Authority (NDMA) by the Prime Minister recently were based on the Turkish Technology. The kits were imported from Turkey and as­sembled in Pakistan.

However, now Pakistani ex­perts will be able to complete­ly manufacture the ventilators with their own technology.

He said that promotion of local manufacturing of differ­ent things like masks, suits, gloves, sanitizers, testing kits etc would help increase ex­ports of the country.

Earlier the country was spending a lot of money on import of all such things but now local manufacturing will make the country self-reliant and enable it to earn revenues through exports, he said.

Mentioning another project, Dr Atta-ur-Rahman said Paki­stani researchers were work­ing on a 100 genome project to observe the genome from different coronavirus patients to identify the changes oc­curred in its structure.

He said the scientists and researchers at Jamil-ur- Rahman Centre for Genome Research, Karachi have iso­lated the coronavirus and discovered changes in its structure at eight places as compared to the original vi­rus found in China