KARACHI: “The Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP) has approved three vaccines till now. The first is the Sinopharm vaccine; the second is the Oxford University research project – Astrazeneca vaccine produced by the Serum Institute of India. The third is the Sputnik-V, manufactured by the Russian State Institute.
We are currently using the Sinopharm vaccine. Soon, we will get the Astrazeneca and Russian Sputnik-V, vaccines. For the very first time in the history of Pakistan we have completed the phase three clinical trial of the Sinopharm vaccine based on 18,000 subjects,” said Dr Obaidullah, Director, Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP).
He talked about the COVID-19 vaccine during the virtual seminar, titled “Reality or Myth of COVID-19 Vaccine” organized by Ziauddin University to raise awareness about the insight reality of COVID-19 vaccine.
While talking about the ingredients used in COVID-19 vaccine, he said, “In Pakistan, the vaccine we are using has an inactivated, dead COVID-19 particle which develops the immunity response. Lung damage and death rate can also be controlled after getting a vaccine shot. All Islamic countries like Saudi Arabia and UAE are using this. From the development to the approval process of the vaccine, it has been completed during the ten months of the pandemic, which is the fastest development and clinical trial of any vaccine in the whole wide world.”
Whilst answering a question about the ideal amount of a vaccine shot to prevent COVID-19, Dr Osama Rehman Khalid, Consultant, Infectious Disease, Dr Ziauddin Hospital, said, “The vaccine we are using in Pakistan have two shots to prevent, one from the beginning and the second shot after three weeks of the first shot. However, other countries of the world are using different kinds of vaccines, and each dose of the vaccine varies from vaccine to vaccine.”
“Clinical trials of the vaccine were started in July 2020 and still going on, nobody knows about the effectiveness of the vaccine and how long it will stay, so it is not the right time to take a risk for our lives by avoiding safety measurements. We cannot evade SOPs until 80-90% of the whole population gets vaccinated,” explained Dr Osama Rehman Khalid.
“The reasons for getting vaccinated are that it will stop the rapid spread of COVID-19 and, there are still some chances of a vaccinated person to catch COVID-19, but the vaccine will change the nature of COVID-19 as there would be no complications or death fear for the vaccinated COVID-19 patient. Also, it wouldn’t be as severe as it were before the vaccine. Vaccines immunity decreases with time. Those who already suffer from COVID-19 are supposed to get vaccine shots two weeks after getting a negative report from COVID-19,” Dr Osama noted.
While answering the question about the age group recommendation for vaccines, he said, “The vaccine is highly recommended for the people above 18 years old. According to the vaccines’ research trials, it has been tested successfully between the age group of 18 to 60. Whereas, the age group above 60 has been told to get vaccinated on their risk. As for now, the positive data of the following age group vaccine trial has not been found yet.”
“Pregnant and breastfeeding mothers are not recommended to get the vaccine shot because pregnant and breastfeeding mothers were not a part of the clinical trial of the COVID-19 vaccine. However, it varies from situation to situation as few females got pregnant after a few months of getting vaccinated, and we didn’t get any reported problems in those pregnant women.” He was talking about the safety of vaccines for pregnant women or a breastfeeding mother.
Dr Bushra Jamil, President, the Medical Microbiology & Infectious Diseases Society of Pakistan, responded to a question about the side effects of vaccines said that there are minor side effects like local pain, fever, and eyesight effect which is typical of any vaccine. No major reported side effects for this vaccine have been observed.
“People need to clear this misconception that vaccines will change their DNA. No, it will not. There are no chances of getting infected. It’s a regular viral infection so it does not affect the immune system in any way which would predispose to the development of any infection,” she added.
While motivating the public for vaccination, Dr Nida Hussain, Pro-Chancellor, Ziauddin University, said, “We need to motivate the public to go and get their vaccine shot as it’s not harmful, it doesn’t have any major side effects, and it is for your safety and your loved one’s safety. Those who are afraid of the vaccine and have some misconception regarding the vaccine should keep in mind that this vaccine we are using in Pakistan has been through strict clinical trials and succeeded for masses.”