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The second meeting of the Working Group on International Cooperation and Partnerships in Vaccine Production was held at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs today. The meeting, co-chaired by Foreign Secretary Sohail Mahmood and Executive Director National Institute of Health (NIH), Major General Dr. Aamer Ikram, was attended by high-level representatives of the Ministry of National Health Services, Regulations, and Coordination; Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan(DRAP); National Command and Operation Centre(NCOC); Ministry of Science and Technology; Ministry of Commerce; Higher Education Commission(HEC),Intellectual Property Organization Pakistan, OIC Standing Committee on S&T (COMSTECH)and research organizations from the public sector in Pakistan. Pakistan’s Permanent Mission to the World Health Organization (WHO) and World Trade Organization (WTO) joined the meeting virtually.

The meeting was held in the backdrop of the recent announcement by WHO regarding approval of Pakistan’s Expression of Interest (EOI) to seek technology transfer and technical support under the COVAX initiative of the WHO.

In his remarks, Foreign Secretary Sohail Mahmood acknowledged the efforts led by the NIH in completing a holistic mapping of indigenous capacity in vaccine manufacturing, which was one of the key objectives of the Working Group mechanism. He also stressed the need to look beyond the pandemic and use this opportunity to promote local production of medical biotechnology products in Pakistan. At the diplomatic front, Pakistan has maintained its position on the advocacy for equitable access to vaccines and international partnerships for global health security.

Executive Director (NIH) Prof. Dr. Aamer Ikram informed the participating stakeholders on the main takeaways from the mapping and status of ongoing projects at NIH focused on vaccine manufacturing. He also underscored the necessity of continued up-gradation of manufacturing and regulatory systems for increasing the scope of indigenous vaccine production and local pharmaceutical products.

Pakistan’s Permanent Representatives to WHO Ambassador Khalil Hashmi and WTO Dr. Mujtaba Piracha, updated the participants on various work streams at the WTO, including ongoing discussions on patent waivers.

The participants exchanged views on further engagement with WHO for the materialization of WHO’s offer.

15 March 2022

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