In a significant breakthrough, the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP) has approved the clinical trial of a potential COVID-19 vaccine in the country.
The Clinical Studies Committee of DRAP has okayed the trails to be conducted in Indus Hospital, Karachi. The International Centre for Chemical and Biological Sciences, Karachi, will conduct the test in collaboration with a Chinese company that is already conducting trials in China.
As many as 200 volunteers, representing various ethnic groups have registered for the trial, which will complete in two months. During the time, volunteers – both male and female – will be administered with three injections of inactivated virus.
The volunteers will be closely monitored and a monthly report will be prepared on how their bodies react to the virus and the vaccine.
Speaking on the development, a DRAP official said that it was a significant development. A successful trial will mean that the vaccine will become available to people sooner.
Though vaccines are being prepared in different countries, we cannot surely say whether we will get them as there will be high demand for the vaccines across the globe. If this trial is successful, the vaccine will be easily available to us at affordable rates.
Minister for Planning, Asad Umar, the head of the National Coordination and Operation Centre on COVID-19, was also hopeful for trials on the vaccine to be successful.
It is one of the potential vaccines which can become successful.
Though Pakistan was unable to participate in the phase-III trials held in different countries, an opportunity has finally arrived wherein volunteers can participate in the tests, he said.
On March 24, a government task force on COVID-19 headed by Professor Dr. Atta ur Rehman was set up to help control the virus. The University of Health Sciences Vice-Chancellor Prof Dr. Javed Akram, Dr. Ghazna Khalid, Prof Al Fareed Zafar, Prof Iqbal Chaudhry, Prof Dr. Khalid Khan, and Prof Mariam Riaz Tarar are other members of the task force.
Speaking on the condition of anonymity, one of the committee members said that the trials will begin from the next week.
We have selected volunteers from various ethnic groups to analyze their results. I believe Karachi is the most appropriate city as people from all backgrounds are settled there.
He said that inactivated virus would be injected in each volunteer on the first, 28th, and the 56th day, after which they would be tested for antibodies. Each participant will be paid Rs. 50,000. After completion of the trial in Karachi, they will move to other cities of the country.