A survey by Gallup Pakistan covered the opinions of more than 500 doctors, out of which most were working in outbreak facilities in 4 provinces. Some of them even contracted the virus themselves. The survey was about the potential acceptance of coronavirus vaccines among healthcare workers in Pakistan. The majority of doctors consider that the rollout of vaccines is slow and they have not been offered vaccination yet. The survey determined the ratio of Pakistani doctors that preferred proper vaccination. The Pakistani government has reportedly offered the Chinese vaccine in huge quantities, which ranked extremely lower on the scale of doctor’s preference.
Chinese Vaccine Has Low Demand Among Doctors
According to the survey, more than 80% of Pakistani doctors would like to get Pfizer-BioNTech’s or Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines. Both of these are not available in sufficient quantities in Pakistan. Only 6% of Pakistani doctors have acknowledged the Chinese vaccine, which reportedly has more than 1 million doses available in the country. According to some reports, National Command and Operation Center (NCOC) said that by the end of March, Pakistan would be receiving over 5 million doses of mixed vaccine consignment.
The data also showed that 84% of surveyed doctors consider COVID-19 to be a moderate to severe danger for the population at large. 81% demanded the immediate vaccination while 19% did not bother to be vaccinated. Out of these 81% who wanted vaccination, preferred Pfizer and Astra-Zeneca over the Chinese vaccine.
The Special Assistant To Prime Minister for National Health Services has requested the doctors to register themselves for the vaccine. However, the vaccine preferences of Pakistani doctors, do not sit well with the government’s process of vaccination
Pakistan’s Vaccination Plan
The consignment arriving in the 1st and 2nd week of March will reportedly include Gavi/Covax vaccines. Gavi is the global alliance of vaccines, responsible for coordinating the development and implementation of the COVAX facility. COVAX is a vaccine sharing program, which was supposed to procure vaccines for Pakistan as well. On Tuesday 2nd March, Gavi’s leader announced that Pfizer’s vaccine was facing a delay via the COVAX program because manufacturers needed to set additional requirements, Reuters reported.
Therefore, the consignment will not include Pfizer’s vaccine. According to reports these four vaccines have been authorized: China’s Sinopharm, CanSinoBIO vaccines, AstraZeneca-Oxford, and Sputnik-V. Moreover, Pakistan has reserved Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines for elder people only (aged 65 and above). The NCOC further said that more than 170 million doses from the COVAX program will be arriving in Pakistan by the end of June.
Difference Between Preferred And Offered Vaccines
According to reports Pakistan has been testing multiple kinds of Chinese vaccine. One of them is from a company called Sinopharm, which some Pakistani doctors have acknowledged. These doctors were mostly linked to the government like Dr. Atta-ur-Rehman, who said that this vaccine was not really hyped but has shown great results. According to CNN, the Sinopharm vaccine has up to 86% effectiveness. Dr. Atta further said that there were critical problems associated with the Pfizer vaccine, which has made it incompatible with Pakistan’s healthcare system.
Although it is 94% effective, it will take a longer time to be delivered because of regulations. Secondly, it needs to be kept at -80 degrees Celsius, a temperature which Pakistan cannot easily achieve without increasing cost. On the other hand, the Chinese vaccine only requires 2 degrees to 8 degrees temperature. It is cost-effective for Pakistan to normalize the use of this vaccine despite the growing demand for Pfizer’s vaccine.