[Update]: To accommodate the millions of Pakistanis, we need to acquire vaccines from every possible avenue. In that regard, Pakistan had been in talks with Germany as well. And now, yesterday, Shah Mahmood Qureshi took to Twitter announcing that Pakistan will be getting 15 million doses of vaccine under COVAX.
Following my meeting with Foreign Minister @HeikoMaas, I am happy to announce that Pakistan will receive 15 million doses of the #COVID vaccine under COVAX, with a commitment for these to be delivered by May. 🇵🇰 🇩🇪
— Shah Mahmood Qureshi (@SMQureshiPTI) April 12, 2021
[Feb 15, 2021]: Pakistan is bringing in 17 million doses of the COVID vaccine. The AstraZeneca vaccine is said to come to Pakistan before April. The British High Commission has also stated that before June, an additional 10 million doses will also be provided. In total, it is being said to make more than eight million people protected from COVID. This is because each person needs to be administered multiple doses of it to be effective.
The official statements on the ETA of the Vaccine
Asad Umar, Chief of the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) wrote in a tweet:
“Good news on COVID vaccine front. Received a letter from COVAX of [an] indicative supply of up to 17 million doses of AstraZeneca in 1st half 2021.”
The minister also said that six million of the total seventeen will be delivered in the month of February only. The initiative is a COVAX program according to which a number of countries will get the vaccine. And Pakistan is to get 17.2 million doses share. The goal of the program is to immunize 3% of the respective countries’ population.
The first dose is 76% effective and the percentage rises up to 82% after the second week if it is given after 12 weeks. More importantly, this vaccine is better for developing countries as it can be stored in normal fridges, kept for up to six months, and is cheaper.
Under the supervision of Dr. Faisal Sultan, the Special Assistant to Prime Minister, experts prepared recommendations for acquiring the COVID vaccine. It was submitted to the Federal Cabinet, where the government discussed how affordable the vaccine should be. The idea was that everyone should have access to the vaccine without discrimination. But on Wednesday, Dr. Nausheen Hamid announced that the cabinet had allocated the initial funds for the vaccine purchase, which will not be just affordable. Instead, it will be free.
Procuring the covid vaccine
Dr. Nausheen Hamid, Parliamentary Secretary National Health Services Regulations and Coordination (NHSRC), was in talks with a local news channel. She told them that the government has been working towards acquiring funding for the vaccine. According to her, it will be made available by the second quarter of 2021, which is a little different from the rumors. Initially, it was supposed to be the first quarter.
She also mentioned that a China-made vaccine for the pandemic is undergoing trials in Pakistan. The trial is already in its third phase. This whole process happening in Pakistan is a very privileged scenario for the country because very few states participate in a landmark achievement for the entire world. She assures that the moment it is proved that the vaccine works, it will be made available.
Dr. Nausheen Hamid elaborating on the government’s effort
In her talks, she mentioned that the government is in discussions with the companies working on vaccine development, and they will be making an informed decision. The factors they will e considering include but are not limited to are safety, side effects, storage, cost, production capacity, and of course, its efficacy.
Parliament Secretary NHRSC said, “The whole world is booking vaccines; we are also in touch with everyone.”
According to her, the vaccine will be available at cheap rates on the COVAX platform for 186 counties, and Pakistan also plans to do the buying from there. She continued to mention that a budget of $100 million has been approved for the vaccine. This, again, is a bit different from earlier news that said a budget of $150 million had been allocated.
She ended the talks by discussing how the continued rallies are a risky move, especially since the country is amid the second, more lethal wave of coronavirus. She urged the media to counsel people mentioning how the government cannot fight this war alone. The most they can do is increase the space in hospitals and gather funding for the vaccine. The people have to give in their input as well.
It is time to ‘act responsibly,’ she said.
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