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EDITORIAL: In a gloomy prognosis for this country a New York-based media company, Bloomberg, has claimed that it would take a decade for Pakistan to inoculate 75 percent of its population against Covid-19 – 70 percent is generally regarded as the benchmark for ensuring herd immunity. That though should not be as alarming as it sounds since Bloomberg’s projections keep moving up and down depending on the vaccination rate of counties tracked on a monthly basis. In a recent review, it has also removed a vaccine tracking measure. The forecast for Pakistan is partly based on a Gallup survey, according to which almost half of the more than 1000 people said they won’t get vaccinated against this pandemic. Reports, however, from many Western nations, including the US, also speak of vaccine resistance.

The problem for countries like Pakistan has been the ‘vaccination nationalism’ of wealthy Western governments. They have procured huge quantities, a lot more than their needs. So far, people in some African countries have received not a single dose of any of the approved vaccines. Under its COVAX facility, the World Health Organisation (WHO) had promised to provide Pakistan with different vaccines to cover 20 percent of its population. The availability date was later shifted to April; the supply schedule is still awaited. Orders for purchase from other sources also have yet to materialize. Meanwhile, China has been helping Pakistan, gifting 1.5 million doses of its Sinopharm vaccine. Last week, arrived two consignments of the paid for 500,000 doses of Sinopharm and 600,000 doses of Cansino Biologic. The first priority of course has been the frontline health professionals. Since last month, an extended vaccination campaign has also steadily started picking up pace. The government has done an admirable job of dealing with the logistical challenge, setting up special well-managed inoculation facilities for people above 70 and 60 years of age followed by 50 something. The National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) has now announced that people aged 80 and above will be administered China’s single-dose Cansino Biologic vaccine in their homes.

While ranking resilience scores, last month Bloomberg decided that distribution was more important than the number of supply deals signed. Access, it said, is now represented by the people covered by vaccines metric. It is worth noting that after our government allowed private companies to import vaccines, and Russia’s Sputnik V became available for purchase people have been eagerly registering their names and impatiently waiting for their turn to get the jab in the designated private hospitals in Karachi and Lahore. Many in other parts of the country would also be keen to have the shot in their arms. At this rate, the government target of vaccinating 70 percent of the population by the end of the current year seems to be well on course.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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