Pakistan on Tuesday began trials of Phase III of a COVID-19 vaccine developed by a Chinese company, Planning Minister Asad Umar said.
The country enjoys a sharp decline in new infections, which has encouraged authorities to lift all virus-related restrictions.
“Just launched the phase 3 trials of a Covid-19 vaccine in Pakistan,” Mr Umar said.
A total of 40,000 people – including 10,000 Pakistanis – will participate in this trial in seven countries, Mr Umar said.
The initial results are expected in four to six months, he added.
Trials of the vaccine candidate, developed by biopharmaceutical company CanSinoBio and the Beijing Institute of Biotechnology, are already under way in Argentina, Chile, China and Russia.
According to the National Institute of Health, which oversees the process, the first and second phase trials of the vaccine candidate, completed in May and June respectively, have shown promising results.
Several Chinese companies have joined in the global race to develop a vaccine to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, which originated in China late 2019.
Pakistan has witnessed a sharp decline in new COVID-19 infections since July.
That prompted the government to lift restrictions.
Earlier this month, Pakistan allowed schools to reopen.
The country has so far reported 306,866 COVID-19 infections and 6,424 deaths.
According to the health ministry, 582 new cases were reported during the last 24 hours, out of 36,155 tests.
Pakistan, China’s neighbour and long-time political ally, relies heavily on Beijing’s support for its troubled economy, which was struck hard by the pandemic.