Pakistan on Monday received the first batch of COVID-19 vaccine as a gift from its longtime ally China.
A special Pakistan Air Force plane carrying 500,000 doses of the vaccine developed by China’s Sinopharm landed at the Islamabad airport.
The shipment was received by Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi and Chinese envoy Nong Rong. Another 1.1 million pre-ordered doses are expected later this month.
Dr Faisal Sultan, assistant to prime minister on health, said he was “grateful to China and everyone who made this happen.”
“Alhamdulilah (Thanks God) the first batch of Sinopharm vaccine has arrived! Grateful to China and everyone who made this happen,” he tweeted. “I salute our frontline healthcare workers for their efforts & they’ll be first to get vaccinated.”
The South Asian country of over 200 million people is set to begin the much-awaited vaccination campaign this week. In the first phase, frontline health workers and those above age 65 will be inoculated.
Last week, the government said it had secured 17 million doses of the vaccine developed by Oxford-AstraZeneca through the WHO-led COVAX initiative.
Pakistan’s drug regulatory authority has already approved the emergency use of both the vaccines.
The country has so far registered 546,428 coronavirus cases and 11,683 related deaths.