COVID Watch | 29th January 2021

Research for CanSinoBIO vaccine has now entered the follow-up stage for which it has entered an agreement with the PITB to keep in contact with 18,000 volunteers. Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar approves Rs. 50 million to purchase gene-sequencing technology. Punjab Health Minister Yasmin Rashid announces that Punjab has completed its COVAX trials.

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COVID Watch

CanSinoBIO advances Phase III trials

Research for the Canadian-Chinese developed CanSinoBIO vaccine has now entered the follow-up stage for which it has entered an agreement with the Punjab Information Technology Board (PITB). After administering doses to its target of 18,000 volunteers for its Phase III trials, the PITB will keep in touch with the volunteers through its call center to tally reports of delayed side-effects as well as the long-term effectiveness of the vaccine. The research is expected to take another eight to nine months to conclude and produce finalised data.

Punjab to get gene-sequencing technology

Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar approved Rs. 50 million in funds to purchase gene-sequencing technology to determine whether or not a different variant is responsible for the high number of case fatalities during the second wave. Gene-sequencing allows technicians to determine the type of variant of a virus, while standard polymerase chain reaction testing kits only determine the presence of COVID-19. Currently, only the National Institute of Health (NIH) possesses such technology.

Punjab will be the first province to acquire the machine. The decision comes after the B.1.1.7 variant was discovered in samples collected from coronavirus-positive citizens returning from the UK between November 2020 and January 2021.

Punjab completes COVAX trials

Punjab Health Minister Yasmin Rashid announced that Punjab has completed its COVAX trials, the data for which has been sent to Canada for review. Per its policy, Pakistan will now receive vaccine vials which will inoculate 20 percent of the population in the next three to four months. In the first phase of inoculation, the government will administer doses to frontline healthcare workers, and then to citizens aged 65 and above and with underlying health conditions in the second phase.

COVAX, a joint collaboration by the United Nation’s World Health Organization (WHO), the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, aims to provide free vaccine doses to the world’s poorest nations to ensure fair and equitable access to health during the pandemic.

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