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Coronavirus

Pakistan approves AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use

Pakistan would procure more than a million doses of Sinopharm's vaccine, but the Chinese vaccine has not yet been approved by the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan   © Reuters

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) -- AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine has been approved for emergency use in Pakistan, the health minister said on Saturday, making it the first coronavirus vaccine to get the green light for use in the South Asian country.

Pakistan, which is in the midst of a second wave of coronavirus infections, has said it would procure more than a million doses of Sinopharm's vaccine, but the Chinese vaccine has not yet been approved by the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP).

"DRAP granted emergency use authorization to AstraZeneca's COVID vaccine," the country's health minister, Faisal Sultan, told Reuters.

Pakistan is in the process of speaking to a number of vaccine makers, and Sultan said the country could get "in the range of tens of millions" of vaccine doses under an agreement with China's CanSinoBio.

The vaccine company's Ad5-nCoV COVID-19 candidate is currently nearing completion of phase III clinical trials in Pakistan.

Pakistan reported 2,432 new coronavirus infections and 45 deaths on Friday, taking the total number of cases to more than 516,000 and deaths close to 11,000.

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