Pakistan will allow private companies to import COVID-19 vaccines, Reuters reported Thursday.
The health ministry sought a special cabinet exemption to
allow for such imports, it reported, citing official documents.
It sought to exclude these imported vaccines from the strict
price cap regime applied to drug sales in the country.
Prime Minister Imran Khan’s cabinet has approved the
proposal, according to the documents.
PM’s aide on health Faisal Sultan told Reuters that it was
an “approval of the principle that private sector can import” and drive the
pricing due to “the non-availability of a reference price”.
Pakistan has yet to secure a substantial number of vaccines
from any company. The country earlier this month launched an inoculation drive
with 500,000 doses of the Sinopharm vaccine donated by China.
It is vaccinating frontline health workers for now.
Pakistan still plans to inoculate its people for free, Dr
Sultan said. Only a “small minority” who wished to pay for the vaccines will
have that option in the open market, he added.
“Only those who wish to get it via private sector will pay
anything,” he told Reuters. “Personally, my assessment is that when the
vaccines are available and we have market competition, that will automatically
set the prices.”
Pakistan is mostly reliant on COVAX, the WHO co-led
globally-pooled vaccine procurement and distribution effort. It has yet to
receive any vaccines from COVAX.