Special Assistant to the Prime Minister (SAPM) on Health Dr Faisal Sultan said on Wednesday that 0.8 million doses of the Covid-19 vaccine had been administered in Pakistan and the campaign would be further sped up.
SAPM Sultan was talking to the media in Islamabad where he provided updates of Pakistan’s vaccination campaign and future developments to come.
“I want to tell you that more than 0.8m vaccine doses have been administered in Pakistan and we want to take this campaign further and speed it up.
“The reason for that is the epidemic is at its peak right now and apart from all safety precautions […] an important strategy [to control it] is vaccination.”
He said that 0.5m purchased doses of China’s Sinopharm Covid-19 vaccine had been received today with an additional 0.5m doses scheduled to arrive tomorrow. Pakistan would have possession of one million purchased vaccine doses in total with these two consignments, said SAPM Sultan, adding that millions of doses of purchased Covid-19 vaccine would continue to come in the following weeks and months.
“In the coming months in April, May and June, orders for millions of doses are being finalised and they will keep coming. Then our vaccination process will keep moving forward.”
He mentioned that registration for people above 50 had been opened while the inoculation campaign for people above 60 was ongoing. “We are speeding up this process and want to take it to a stage where a large number of Pakistanis have been vaccinated so it can prove to be an important tool and help in stopping the spread of the disease.”
He thanked China for making possible the start of Pakistan’s inoculation campaign and its continued help in the provision of vaccine doses.
Pakistan kicked off its vaccination drive in early February with Professor Rana Imran Sikander becoming the first doctor to be vaccinated against the disease at the Prime Minister Office in the presence of Prime Minister Imran Khan.
The prime minister had said at the occasion, “I congratulate my team which has worked promptly and vaccine was imported. We are also thankful to China which has provided vaccine.”
The first batch of vaccines, brought to Pakistan via a Pakistan Air Force aircraft on February 1, had contained 0.5m doses of Sinopharm vaccine gifted by China.
Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi had said that the arrival of the first batch of Covid-19 vaccines was “practical proof” of Pakistan-China friendship. China donated another consignment of 0.5m doses on March 17.
That was also when the first consignment of the privately imported Russian Sputnik V Covid-19 vaccine arrived in Karachi. The Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan in January 2021 had given a go-ahead to a local pharmaceutical firm, AGP, to import and distribute the Russian-developed Sputnik V.
PM urges enforcement of SOPs
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Imran Khan urged the authorities to ensure that coronavirus SOPs were being followed and instructed them to start a campaign to raise awareness about precautionary measures against Covid-19.
“The most effective strategy to fight the third wave of the pandemic is to control activities that spread the [virus] and wear masks,” the premier said while chairing a meeting of the National Coordination Committee (NCC) on Covid-19.
During the meeting, Prime Minister Imran was informed about the coronavirus situation in the country, positivity rates, distribution of vaccines and steps being taken to ensure vaccine availability in the future as well.
He expressed concern over non-compliance of SOPs, saying that global experiences had shown that wearing a mask was the most effective way to stop the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.
“The strategy to deal with the third wave of the coronavirus pandemic and to stop the spread should be made keeping in view the economic situation and the difficulties of the people,” he said.
“The poor people are the most affected by the coronavirus. The focus of our entire strategy is to provide them relief and protect them from the negative effects of the pandemic.”
The premier also directed provinces to ensure that district administrations also play an effective role in the enforcement of SOPs.