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My wife and I were the first ones in the country to have got first dose of Sputnik V on last Thursday night at a well-managed private hospital with totally hygienic sate of the art facility in Karachi. Covid-19 vaccination is now opened at other private hospitals in Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad which are connected with nims.nadra.gov.pk also to get a vaccine certificate after the second dose. With a huge demand and only 25,000x2 doses available, the stock is likely to exhaust within a week.

Sputnik V has been brought by Ali Gohar Pakistan Limited (AGP), after great deal of hard work and deserves compliments. There has been an extensive debate about the price of vaccine. But a pharmaceutical company listed at Pakistan Stock Exchange (PSX) which follows ethical and governance standards and the fact that Sindh High Court after hearing allowed its stock to be released should bring an end to this debate.

It is a known fact that a PCR test costs upto Rs. 9000 and there has not been any debate about its price and rightly so and given that a large number of people are becoming victims of the third wave of Covid-19, vaccination at a jet speed is need of the hour.

Given that out of 225 million population, we have 150 million of 18+, even if one third decides to get vaccinated, the country will need 50 million x 2 doses. It will be challenging for GOP and provinces to achieve this task in the next couple of years and therefore criticism that Pakistan is the only country to have allowed the private sector to import the vaccine and it will lead to corruption is unfounded. In fact, Ministry of Health should be praised for such a move which in due course will be followed by other countries. As far as Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP) is concerned, on the one the hand it should ensure availability of quality vaccine and a pricing formula with a reasonable profit margin including logistics and administrative cost on the other. With this approach in view, DRAP and the AGP may please come out of the litigation before next hearing fixed by Sindh High Court on 12th April and devote their energies towards speeding up the vaccination process as the company plans to import 2 million doses and there may be other parties willing to import other brands.

Here we should greatly appreciate the role of NCOC and NADRA for making the vaccine certificates online available. This undoubtedly will put an end to the fake certificates as in due course airlines will be able to scan the barcodes displayed on the certificate and their systems will be linked to nims.nadra.gov.pk. In current vaccination drive not only those who can afford are getting it but also sending their domestic staff to private hospitals. Moreover, having spoken to the CEOs’ of companies they are waiting for enough supplies to pay for the vaccination of staff and in some cases even their families.

Finally, a study conducted by Pakistan Center for Philanthropy shows that when it comes to charitable giving, Pakistan is a generous country. It contributes more than one percent of its GDP to charity, which pushes it into the ranks of wealthier countries. Thus, with Ramazan is just a week away, let people give their Zakaat and Sadaqat for vaccination of poor.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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