ISLAMABAD: The first batch of 500,000 doses of Sinopharm vaccine arrived in Pakistan on Monday as a gift from China to be used to inoculate the frontline health workers to protect them from COVID-19 at initial stage. Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi received the first batch of 500,000 doses of Sinopharm vaccine from the Chinese Ambassador Nong Rong at a ceremony held at the Nur Khan Airbase.
The vaccine arrived from Beijing early morning through a special flight.
Talking to media on the occasion, Foreign Minister Qureshi thanked the leadership and people of China for sending the gift of Sinopharm vaccine to Pakistan to fight the pandemic.
He added that the vaccine had arrived right at the time when Pakistan was grappling with the second wave of COVID-19.
The delivery of vaccines, coinciding with commencement of celebrations of the 70th anniversary of establishment of diplomatic relations between two countries, reaffirmed the finest tradition that China always stood by Pakistan, Qureshi said, adding that it also shows that “Pakistan-China friendship is timeless and that China is our staunchest partner.”
“The way China’s economy has grown is a testimony of the Chinese leadership’s vision,” he said, adding that the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is a reflection of a shared vision of the two countries that will lead to prosperity and development of the entire region.
The foreign minister particularly lauded President Xi Jinping’s vision that the Covid-19 vaccine, when developed, should be a “global public good”.
He expressed special gratitude to State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi for expeditiously sending the vaccine to Pakistan.
He said that the vaccine will be used to inoculate the front-line health workers to protect them from COVID-19 and will play an important role in saving precious human lives.
Qureshi underlined that recently Phase-III clinical trials of Chinese vaccine CanSino had successfully concluded in Pakistan, adding that Islamabad is deepening cooperation with Beijing in the matters relating to vaccine.
He said the success of this vaccine will be great news for Pakistan.
He said that Pakistan-China cooperation in fighting the pandemic, since its outbreak, has been exemplary.
The foreign minister further stated that Pakistan firmly supported China’s global and regional initiatives aimed at controlling the pandemic.
Pakistan has supported China-led regional forums that are meaningfully engaged in containing the pandemic and resuming economic activities across the region, he added.
He added that China had stood shoulder-to-shoulder with Pakistan in the fight against COVID-19.
He also thanked the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) and Chinese doctors for coming to Pakistan and training medical health professionals on how to combat the virus.
The foreign minister also thanked the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) for providing a special plane for bringing the vaccines from China.
“We are grateful to PAF and we are proud of you,” Qureshi added.
Speaking on the occasion, Chinese Ambassador Nong Rong said Pakistan was the first country in the world to receive vaccines donated by the Chinese government.
“It a manifestation of the brotherhood between our two countries,” he said, adding that Pakistan is China’s “closest friend” and is a priority for cooperation.
Earlier last month, in a telephonic conversation with Foreign Minister Qureshi, the Chinese foreign minister had assured that Beijing would supply over one million doses of Covid-19 vaccine to Pakistan for emergency use.
Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Health Dr Faisal Sultan, Foreign Secretary Sohail Mahmood, Secretary Health Aamir Ashraf Khawaja, and Executive Director National Institute of Health (NIH) Major General Aamer Ikram were also present on the occasion.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2021