In Pakistan, the government has allowed the sale and purchase of imported vaccines to prevent the global pandemic of coronavirus. Social circles are calling it the latest example of the class system in the country.
The federal government says pharmaceutical companies will now be able to import coronavirus vaccine from countries such as Russia and China and sell it commercially. In the first phase, Russia’s Sputnik vaccine and China’s CanSino vaccine will be available in the market.
With this decision, the rich people in the country will not have to wait for their turn for official vaccinations and they can go to private hospitals and get vaccinated whenever they want.
In the last one day, 5234 new coronavirus cases were recorded in Pakistan, which is the highest number of cases per day this year.
Pakistan’s ruling circles have welcomed the government’s decision. However, it is being seen by sociologists as a fresh example of the dual class system in the country.
“We condemn the sale of vaccines on a commercial basis as it is the duty of the government to provide free vaccines to the people,” said Sajjad Qaiser, general secretary of the Pakistan Medical Association.
Similarly, the non-governmental organization Transparency International has urged the government to reconsider its decision. According to the organization, the price of vaccines in the market will be beyond the reach of the general public and it is feared that this will start a new cycle of corruption between government agencies and expensive private hospitals.
In a press conference after the federal cabinet meeting on Thursday, Federal Minister for Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhry defended the government’s decision. He clarified that the federal government would make every effort to provide free vaccines to 98% of the country’s population. However, he said that if the remaining 2% of the population does not want to stand in line and wait for their turn, they should have the option to buy and get vaccinated.
According to officials, the price of Chinese vaccine in the country has been fixed at Rs 4,225 while the price of Russian vaccine has been in dispute. The government says the price should be Rs 8,449 but the vaccine importer insists it should be Rs 12,268.
Dispute over price
AGP, a private company in Pakistan, imported 50,000 doses of the aseptic vaccine from Russia last month. But then the shipment of the vaccine got stuck at the port of Karachi due to a dispute with the government over the price of the vaccine. According to the company, the government first encouraged the private sector to import the vaccine but later reversed its pricing decision, which the company challenged in court.
According to the AGP, a consignment of imported vaccines has been kept in the cold storage of Karachi port for the last two weeks, which should be released immediately so that the vaccines can be delivered to the people.
During the hearing of the case, the Sindh High Court on Thursday said that obstructing the supply of vaccines would be against the public interest. The court ruled that the vaccine should be made available on an emergency basis in view of the current crisis in the country.