Photo used for illustrative purpose.
Tariq Butt, Correspondent
The University of Health Sciences (UHS) has started working on protocols to start trials for nasal COVID-19 vaccine as only four million people having been fully or partially inoculated across Pakistan.
It will be a single dose vaccine, which does not require a syringe. It is hoped the clinical trial will commence in six to eight weeks after approval from three committees is obtained.
UHS Vice Chancellor Dr Javed Akram said the university has started developing protocols for the clinical trial of the nasal vaccine. "The vaccine will be single dose and has been manufactured by the CanSino Biologics whose single dose injectable vaccine is already being used in Pakistan. Nasal vaccines are usually given to children but there will be no age limit for it and it can be administered to both children and adults,” he said.
The vaccine will be capable of generating an immune response at the site of the infection and within the respiratory passage. Though children are less affected by coronavirus, they are a major source of spreading the virus, therefore the vaccine will be helpful in creating herd immunity.
Dr Akram said during clinical trials, the vaccine — already being used in China — would be administered to around 5,000 volunteers and its efficacy and safety would be compared with the injectable vaccines. He said the nasal vaccine could also be cost effective or available at lesser rates.
"Once protocols are finalised, the university’s review board will analyse it and then refer it to the National Bioethics Committee. Final approval of the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (Drap) would be required. I hope the entire process will be completed within six to eight weeks,” he said.
Dr Akram said volunteers would be tested through polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests and next generation sequencing to analyse the efficacy of the vaccine. He hoped the nasal vaccine would be effective against all variants.
"We expect the first 10,000 doses to come on March 25, and 100,000 next month and 200,000 the month after," said Hassan Abbas, an official of AJ Pharma, CanSino's local partner, which will be importing the vaccine.
In the meantime, after reducing the number of inbound flights to 20 per cent as part of measures to halt the spread of COVID-19 from May 5 to 20, Pakistan has also slashed the number of foreign airlines’ flights to 120 per week.
"The forum reviewed the implementation of SOPs during Eid holidays and expressed its satisfaction. It also appreciated the efforts of all stakeholders, especially the cooperation rendered by the public across the country..."
Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Political Communication Dr Shahbaz Gill held a fiery media conference in which he lashed out at Shirazi for criticising the government’s economic policies in her article.
Sheikh Mohammed exchanged cordial conversations with Simonyte about the bilateral relations between the two countries and ways to advance economic relations towards a new stage that achieves the interests of the two countries and their development aspirations in various fields of common interest, foremost of which are the sectors of advanced technology, innovation, and renewable energy.
This was announced by the Seismology Department of the National Centre of Meteorology (NCM), which monitors earthquake activities in the United Arab Emirates.
Sheikh Mohammed was accompanied during the visit by his sons, Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai, Sheikh Maktoum Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai, Ahmed Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Chairman of the Dubai Media Council, and Sheikh Mansour Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum.