Pakistan receive first batch of vaccine from China
Pakistan on Monday received the first batch of Covid-19 vaccine from China.
The batch contains 500,000 doses of the Sinopharm vaccine that has been gifted by China.
Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Health (SAPM) Dr Faisal Sultan announced the development in a tweet and expressed his gratitude to the Chinese government and "everyone who made this happen".
"I salute our frontline healthcare workers for their efforts in tackling Covid and they'll be first to get vaccinated," he tweeted.
According to a statement by the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC), a vaccine handing over ceremony will be held at the airbase at 2pm and will be attended by Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi and Chinese Ambassador to Pakistan Nong Rong.
China has donated 500,000 jabs, with which the frontline healthcare workers will be vaccinated. Over 400,000 health professionals have applied for vaccination.
Planning Minister and NCOC chair Asad Umar said that the registration process of citizens over 65 years would start in the next 10 to 15 days.
An official of the Ministry of National Health Services has said that arrangements were in place to maintain the cold chain management of the vaccine.
“There is a warehouse of the Expanded Programme of Immunisation (EPI) which will be used to store the vaccine. Besides, we have developed the National Immunisation Management System (NIMS) through which we will monitor from Islamabad the doses utilised in each province and district and how many more were required. We will ensure that the new stocks are available before the existing ones run out,” he said.
“Not only have we secured 500,000 free doses from our all-weather friend China but another 1.1m jabs, which had been pre-booked from Beijing, will also arrive,” the official said, adding that Covax had also given us a written assurance that it would provide 17m doses of Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine in the first six months of the ongoing year.
Out of these 17m, around 7m will be received before the end of March. We are confident that the healthcare workers, citizens over 65 years of age, people in the age bracket of 50 and 65 years and those with chronic diseases will be vaccinated by the end of June,” he added.
So far, Pakistan has approved three coronavirus vaccines — the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, the vaccine developed by Chinese state-owned firm China National Pharmaceutical Group (SinoPharm) and Russian-developed Sputnik V.
Officials say the authorisations will be reviewed quarterly with regard to safety, efficacy and quality.