DESPARDES — Pakistan is sending off millions of chloroquine tablets to “friendly countries” as China announced it will provide Coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine to Pakistan for clinical trial.
“Different friendly countries have contacted Prime Minister [Imran Khan] and the foreign office to express their desire to import chloroquine tablets from Pakistan,” Dr. Firdous Ashiq Awan, Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Information and Broadcasting, told reporters.
She said the government had allowed export of one million tablets to Saudi Arabia, five million to the UK, one million to the US, half a million each to Turkey and Italy, 300,000 to Qatar, and 700,000 to Kazakhstan. “In this testing time, we’re exporting theses tablets to friendly nations that have always helped Pakistan,” Awan said.
Chloroquine (an extract from Black Seed also known as Kalonji) is primarily used to prevent and treat malaria, but experts have also claimed it can be effective against the infectious respiratory illness caused by the coronavirus. Some countries including the United States and United Kingdom have used the medicine to treat COVID-19 patients, increasing the demand of the medicine across the world.
According to Awan, Pakistan has a surplus stock of the medicine since it has 40 million tablets in finished form and raw material for 40 million more pills. The country is maintaining a stock of 15 million tablets for its use during the next three months, she said.
“The export of tablets will help strengthen our relationship with humanity”.
Pakistan had relied on these countries on different occasions, and it was an opportunity to help these nations, she said.
‘All-weather friend’ and ‘iron-brother’ China has also given coronavirus vaccine to the country for clinical trials on immediate basis, reports say.
“We are hopeful that the made in China vaccine against the deadly coronavirus would be launched in next three months in Pakistan,” Pakistan National Institute of Health (NIH) Executive Director Major General Aamer Ikram said on Wednesday . “China is providing us the vaccines for the clinical trial on an immediate basis.”
Beijing approved the first trial for a vaccine developed by the military-backed Academy of Military Medical Sciences and Hong Kong-listed biotech firm CanSino Bio on March 16.
The vaccine will be launched in Pakistan in phases (three to four months) after the clinical trials.
The next three to four weeks are very critical for Pakistan, says Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Health Dr Zafar Mirza. He briefed the media on Wednesday about the continuing impact of the coronavirus in the country.
“In the last 24 hours, we have received the highest number of deaths from COVID-19, 17, for the third time in Pakistan,” he said while addressing an event held at the Ministry of Health’s office. “The coming three to four weeks will be critical for Pakistan.”
Two Public Health Professionals told DesPardes the first and second week of May could be crucial, depending on weather and how well communities adapt. “We do not pay attention to the fact that communicable diseases are preventable,” Dr. Mirza said.
The number of coronavirus cases in the country rose to over 10,000 on Wednesday, and the death toll has increased to 212 persons.
“Do not take it as a mere infection only. It will have implications on our generation and the generations to come,” Mirza said.