Pakistan to start vaccination drive next week

Pakistan to start vaccination drive next week

Federal Minister for Planning, Development, and Special Initiatives Asad Umar on Wednesday said that Pakistan will start its Covid-19 vaccination drive next week, starting with the front-line health workers.

"God willing, the vaccination of front-line health workers will start next week," Asad Umar, who oversees Pakistan's efforts to stem the coronavirus pandemic, said in a tweet.

Earlier, China has pledged to donate 0.5 million doses of coronavirus vaccine made by the Chinese firm SinoPharm.

The official said that the first batch would be flown in on Saturday.

Pakistan has so far approved two vaccines for emergency use, one made by China National Pharmaceutical Group (SinoPharm) and the other by AstraZeneca.

Russia's Sputnik V vaccine is also likely to get similar approval, officials say, adding that the authorisations will be reviewed quarterly with regard to safety, efficacy and quality.

Health Minister Faisal Sultan has said Pakistan could get "in the range of tens of millions" of vaccine doses under an agreement with China's Cansino Biologics Inc.

“Cansino's Ad5-nCoV vaccine candidate is nearing completion of Phase III clinical trials in Pakistan, and preliminary results may be available by mid-February,” Sultan added.

The South Asian nation of 220 million people also expects China to donate a further million vaccine doses.

Meanwhile, Pakistan reported 1,563 new coronavirus infections and 74 deaths in the latest 24-hour period, taking the total number of cases to more than 537,477, with 11,450 deaths.