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Cabinet to decide Covid-19 jabs’ price after criticism

ISLAMABAD: Days after Transparency International asked Prime Minister Imran Khan to review the policy of allowing private import of the Covid-19 vaccine, he summoned a meeting of the cabinet on Thursday in order to discuss, among other matters, the prices of jabs imported for commercial sale.

The ministers will discuss the latest political and economic situation besides reviewing the steps for containing the spread of coronavirus and vaccination process, people familiar with the agenda said.

A briefing will also be given to the cabinet regarding the usage of electronic voting machines (EVMs) and the provision of voting rights to Pakistan nationals living abroad.

The cabinet is also likely to decide on the retail prices of Covid-19 vaccines during the upcoming session.

Earlier this month, it had emerged the cabinet had approved a summary regarding prices of jabs – both Chinese and Russian – to be imported by the private sector after a recommendation from the Ministry of National Health Services (NHS) following approval from the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP).

The ministry had recommended the price of two jabs of the Russian vaccine be set at Rs 8,449. The packet containing four doses of Sputnik-V is set at Rs 16,560 while 10 and 20 doses would be available at Rs40,555 and Rs 81,110 respectively after approval from the cabinet.

Moreover, the single-shot coronavirus vaccine from China – Convidencia – would cost Rs4,225.

In a letter to the prime minister, Transparency International pointed out Pakistan is one of the first countries to allow the private sector to import and sell Covid-19 vaccines, and this will provide a window of corruption as there are possibilities that the government’s vaccines may be sold to private hospitals.

The letter pointed out the global price set for the Sputnik-V is $10 per dose, and this means that internationally two doses of Sputnik-V are available at $20.

However, the approved price for its commercial sale in Pakistan is 160 percent higher than the international price, it said.

In early February, DRAP granted emergency use authorization for the Sputnik vaccine and gave permission to a private pharmaceutical company, AG Pharmaceutical, to import and sell the shots.

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