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ISLAMABAD: Special Assistant to the Prime Minister (SAPM) on Health Dr Faisal Sultan said the second phase of countrywide Covid-19 vaccination will start in March with the arrival of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

Addressing a press conference here on Thursday, the SAPM said people above 65 years of age would be vaccinated with AstraZeneca - Oxford vaccine that Pakistan is set to receive through the COVAX facility.

He urged the citizens over 65 years of age to get them register with the authorities, adding that most of the people died of Covid-19 were over 65 years of age.

In the second phase, other than frontline healthcare workers would also be registered for corona vaccination.

From Feb 22, the general healthcare workers would be able to register them through a website, and they will be able to receive the vaccine at their respective vaccination centres.

The procedure is the same as for frontline healthcare workers; send your CNIC number at 1666.

"You will get further information from the message you receive," he maintained.

Sultan said that till March, Pakistan would receive 2.8 million doses of the vaccine under the COVAX facility.

"This is a positive development as we will be able to kick-start our second phase."

Dr Faisal said the World Health Organisation has approved it and that nearly 35 countries are using it, including the United Kingdom. "It is a safe vaccine," he added.

He said that the vaccine that is being used to inoculate the frontline healthcare workers is from Sinopharm, which is not recommended for people over 60 years of age.

"It does not mean that this vaccine is not safe or effective," he said, adding that the people who partook in the vaccine's trials were not substantial; therefore, Pakistani medical experts advised that it should be used when enough data for people above 60 is available.

Furthermore, he said more than 52,000 frontline healthcare workers have received the coronavirus vaccine across Pakistan.

He said the government considers the frontline healthcare workers as ‘ideals’, and it proves the vaccine's efficacy and their trust in it.

Speaking about the procedural changes made in registering for the vaccine, he said if a frontline healthcare worker is less than 60-year-old, he/she will now only have to send their CNIC number at 1666 and visit their nearest vaccination centre.

The list is available on the National Command and Control Centre (NCOC) website.

As per official data since the outbreak of the Covid-19, Pakistan has reported 567,261 coronavirus patients, of which 530,597 have recovered, while 12,488 have died.

According to the NCOC, over the past 24 hours, 52 more Covid-19 patients have lost their lives, while 1,272 new cases were reported nationwide.

The country at present has 24,176 active coronavirus cases of which 240 are on ventilators.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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