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EDITORIAL: The best insurance against the spread of Covid-19 pandemic is vaccination, yet many are hesitant to avail the chance because of misinformation/rumours about the efficacy and side-effects of different vaccines being administered across this country. That though is hardly surprising considering that even polio vaccination is resisted by certain elements, claiming it to be a Western ploy to try and reduce the world’s Muslim population. Some of those who have received the first jab of the Chinese manufactured Sinopharm, though, have an understandable worry, i.e., if the second shot would be of a different immunization booster, and hence unsafe. Speaking at a news conference the other day, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister (SAPM) on Health Dr Faisal Sultan responded to anxiety on this account, and also what he termed unfortunate rumours against vaccination.

Regarding the two-dose course, he explained, it was wrongly being said that Sinopharm is not available or its inoculation has been stopped. Some centres have discontinued using it as the first dose due to supply shortage, but Sinopharm is still being given as the second booster. Administering two separate vaccines is not allowed, he averred. This should ease the concerns of people who have yet to get the second shot. As for the side-effects, it is good to note that they are being constantly monitored. According to the SAPM, so far 3.8 million doses have been given out of which 4,329 cases of side-effects have been reported. Nearly, all of them, he said, were mild and expected, such as pain at the point of injection or fever. Only 6 serious events were reported; each was investigated thoroughly and found to be coincidental and not attributable to vaccine. Dr Faisal Sultan also countered the half-truth that the Oxford-AstraZeneca — recently obtained from the World Health Organisation’s COVAX Facility – was banned by a number of countries and is only being given in Pakistan. It is true that initially some EU countries had suspended its use amid unconfirmed reports connecting it to blood clotting among young people. Also true is that it is now being widely administered in various Western countries as well as Indonesia and South Korea.

While the precautionary standard operating procedures, particularly wearing of mask, need to be implemented strictly, increasing inoculations must remain top priority. It is a matter of satisfaction that the government is making concerted efforts for the procurement of vaccines from different sources. This horrifying third wave of Covid-19 constitutes a profound challenge to the country. Not only is the government therefore required to ensure a stable supply of vaccines, it is also expected to deal with fake news and misreporting about vaccination campaigns and efficacy of Covid-19 vaccines in an effective and meaningful manner. There are no grounds for complacency.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021


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