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December 1, 2020

Influenza vaccine not available in Pakistan so far

Islamabad

December 1, 2020

Islamabad : The month of October that is thought as the prime time to get flu shot has passed and November, another month has gone by with no indication of availability of Influenza Vaccine (flu shot) in any market across Pakistan that is affecting thousands of people particularly those living with a high risk of complications associated with flu.

Epidemiologists and health experts all across the globe urge the community particularly the high risk population to get vaccinated against influenza every year in October to reduce considerable morbidity and mortality but this year, distributors of influenza vaccine in the country received not a single vial of vaccine so far from the two leading manufacturers, Abbott and Sanofi.

Sanofi S.A. is a French multinational pharmaceutical company headquartered in Paris, France and its products are not being imported currently due to prevailing situation of boycott in the country while Abbott did not provide influenza vaccine to distributors in Pakistan because of having huge orders from the developed countries.

It is important that influenza vaccine that is updated every year is made available in markets across the globe in the month of October. The updated vaccine against influenza is developed from strains of viruses circulating in the world in the previous year.

According to distributors in Pakistan, Abbott has prepared vaccine for international community as per past practice but the demand from developed countries is exceeding overwhelmingly this year so they may not be able to provide vaccine for population in Pakistan, said Head of Planning & Development Health Department Islamabad Dr. Muhammad Najeeb Durrani who is an epidemiologist and Member Global Outbreak Alert & Response Network (GOARN).

Talking to ‘The News’ on Monday, he said the demand for influenza vaccine is higher in the developed countries mainly because of emergence of coronavirus illness, COVID-19 as the people at higher risk in the developed countries would like to get flu shot to avoid flu that may make them immune-compromised and they think that by getting flu, they may become an easy victim of corona.

He said there is no direct link of flu shot with protection from COVID-19 however as the influenza and COVID-19 have some symptoms as common, the flu among high risk people may confuse them. And also people in the developed countries are more aware, they may like to avoid co-infection, flu along with coronavirus illness, said Dr. Durrani.