China promises to gift half million doses of vaccine by Jan 31: Qureshi

China promises to gift half million doses of vaccine by Jan 31: Qureshi

China on Thursday promised to provide 0.5 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine to Pakistan by January 31.

This was announced by Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi after a phone call with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi.

"I want to give the nation the good news that China has promised to immediately provide 500,000 doses of vaccine to Pakistan by January 31," he said.

Qureshi also said that China has offered Islamabad to send an airplane and airlift the vaccines.

"They (China) have said you can send your airplane and immediately airlift this drug," he added, saying the development would "help save many lives" in Pakistan.

In a tweet, Qureshi said that China will provide Sinopharm vaccine, which had already approved by the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (Drap) earlier this week.

The foreign minister also said that he informed his Chinese counterpart that Pakistan's requirement for vaccines is "more than this", and that it will need 1.1 million doses in the near future.

"The Chinese foreign minister said 'we plan to fulfil this requirement of yours as well by the end of February and the 1.1m doses will be made available to you,'" he revealed in the video message.

The vaccine was developed by the Beijing Institute of Biological Products, a subsidiary of state-owned conglomerate Sinopharm.

The company announced last month that preliminary data from last-stage trials had shown it to be 79.3 per cent effective.

Qureshi also said that trials of Chinese firm CanSino's vaccine in Pakistan were successfully moving forward and their results had been "quite encouraging".

"Pakistan has a huge population in order to fulfil its needs, we also discussed whether we can move forward together for this (CanSino) vaccine's production and manufacturing in Pakistan after the completion of the new trials," he said, adding that his Chinese counterpart had agreed to the proposal.

The minister said the first batch arriving in Pakistan would be "grant assistance" for which the country would not have to pay anything. "This is a hand of goodwill and friendship that China has extended towards us and I am grateful to them," he added.