FILE PHOTO: COVID-19 vaccines

Pakistan is set to receive half a million doses of COVID-19 vaccine from its neighbour and ally China this January.

A top official said on Thursday, despite doubts about the efficacy of Beijing’s product.

“I want to give the nation the good news that China has promised to immediately provide 500,000 doses of vaccine to Pakistan by Jan. 31,” said Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi.

Qureshi spoke to his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi as pressure mounted on the government to place orders for the import of one of the available vaccines as the pandemic continues to rage in the country.

The Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP) earlier approved the use of two vaccines, those produced by European manufacturer AstraZeneca and China’s Sinopharm.

Medical experts have raised doubts about the efficacy of the Chinese vaccine, as Sinopharm has so far not made public the outcome of its stage 3 clinical trials.

The government is leaving the private sector to import the AstraZeneca vaccine, which might take months, according to local media reports.

China and Pakistan share a border and have been staunch political allies for decades.

China is currently working on 62-billion-dollars worth of road and rail infrastructure projects in Pakistan.

The work, known as the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a collection of infrastructure projects related to Beijing’s ambitious Belt and Road Initiative, aims to give China a land and sea route to markets in the Middle East, Europe and Africa.