Covid-19: Vaccination drive will be launched in Pakistan from next week, starting with front-line health workers, federal Minister for Planning Asad Umar said on Wednesday.
“The system for vaccination is in place. Hundreds of vaccination centres in the country will be administering Covid vaccine,” Asad Umar, said.
“God willing, the vaccination of front-line health workers will start next week,” he added.
China has vowed to contribute 500,000 doses of the coronavirus vaccine made by the Chinese firm SinoPharm to Pakistan.
Two government sources told Reuters the first batch would be fluttered in on Saturday.
Pakistan has already permitted 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 approvals will be revised quarterly with respect to protection, effectiveness and quality.
Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Health Dr Faisal Sultan has said Pakistan could get “in the range of tens of millions” of coronavirus vaccine doses under an agreement with China.
The government also expects China to donate a further million vaccine doses.
Cansino’s Ad5-nCoV vaccine candidate is approaching completion of Phase III clinical trials in Pakistan, and initial results may be available by mid-February, Sultan said.
Dr Ghazna Khalid, a member of the government task force on Covid-19, said Pakistan would acquire vaccines from numerous markets.
“We are the fifth prime country in the world, and it’s going to be very difficult to vaccinate.”
However, the availability of free-of-cost Covid-19 vaccine seems to have been assured for Pakistan as Covax announced earlier this month that it will obtain 150 million doses in the first quarter and two billion doses by the end of the year.
It further said that, out of the two billion doses, 1.3bn will be provided to 92 lower-income economies. As a result of this agreement, the chances of Pakistan getting the free doses in the first quarter of the current year seem to have brightened.
Ministry of National Health Services (NHS) spokesperson Sajid Shah while talking to the media, had said it was an optimistic progress and uttered the hope that Pakistan would get the vaccine in the current quarter.
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.