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ISLAMABAD: Special Assistant to the Prime Minister (SAPM) on National Health Services Dr Faisal Sultan, Wednesday, said the government was making sincere efforts to ensure the availability of the Covid-19 vaccine at all vaccination centres and more doses are expected to arrive soon.

Talking to media here, Sultan said that so far 20 million citizens had been vaccinated as the government secured sufficient doses in the month of June to ramp up the vaccination drive in the country.

He dismissed talk of vaccines having run out in Pakistan as “heresy” and said that shortages were a “global phenomenon”.

He said the vaccine situation in the country would improve after June 20, when more vaccines would reach Pakistan.

It is not clear which vaccines will be arriving at that time.

But according to health officials privy to the deliberations up to one million doses of Chinese vaccine will reach the country by the end of this week.

He said the government was in contact with the local and the provincial administrations to make up the shortfall. “We are carrying out load balancing and redistribution locally to manage the situation across the country.”

Sultan said: “We have two million doses available and vaccinations will continue to protect our citizens from carrying the coronavirus.”

The SAPM said there was no harm if the second dose of vaccine was delayed by six to eight weeks instead of a routine three to four-week duration in between jabs.

He advised citizens to strictly follow Covid-19 Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) in offices and markets to prevent the disease. “Covid-19 is a deadly virus but we can control it just as we controlled it by following the SOPs during the first and second waves.”

He said the government was seeking full cooperation in adhering to the SOPs. “We can save precious lives including those of our near and dear ones by taking preventive measures. Wear a mask, maintain social distancing, wash hands with soap frequently, and avoid crowded places.”

According to the ministry officials, the country in the past two days faced a vaccination shortage situation due to logistics and lack of coordination among the relevant departments.

Officials said the task of procuring the vaccines had been assigned to the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), while the National Health Ministry was relieved of that duty.

As a result, a lack of coordination was witnessed, while there was a disruption in vaccine supplies from China, which led to the crisis.

The NDMA, officials said, was not only dealing with Chinese vaccine manufacturers, including Sinopharm, Sinovac, and CansinoBIO, but it was also negotiating with Pfizer for the procurement of its mRNA vaccine for the country, a deal which could not be struck yet.

Similarly, they said, Pakistan was relying heavily on the National Institute of Health (NIH), Islamabad, for the preparation and filing of single-dose Chinese vaccine Cansino from the bulk concentrate, which is being distributed as PakVac, but the NIH also failed to fulfil its commitment of sustained supply of the single-dose vaccine.

“NIH Islamabad had assured that they would be providing three million doses of PakVac (Cansino) vaccine per month but it failed to meet its commitment,” one of the officials said.

Meanwhile, Pakistan, Wednesday, reported 1,038 coronavirus infections after 42,113 tests were conducted countrywide with a positivity ratio of 2.46 percent.

According to the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC), the country also recorded 2,016 Covid-19 recoveries taking the national toll to 882,332 since the pandemic outbreak.

The number of active Covid-19 cases has dropped below 40,000 mark and was recorded at 39,905.

In the past 24 hours, 46 Covid-19 patients have lost their lives taking the nationwide death tally to 21,828.

Out of 46 deaths reported in the past 24 hours, 45 of them died in hospitals of which 20 were on ventilators, while one person died at home.

Punjab and Sindh reported the most deaths in the past 24 hours as 19 people died in Punjab and 17 in Sindh, while six Covid-19 patients lost their lives in the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (KPK).

Out of a total of 944,065 cases detected in Pakistan since Covid-19 outbreak, Punjab with 344,379 is on top followed by Sindh with 329,279 cases, KPK 136,313, Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) 82,207, Balochistan 26,331, Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) 19,822, and Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) 5,734 cases.

Of 21,828 nationwide deaths recorded since Covid-19 outbreak, Punjab with 10,567 deaths is on top followed by Sindh with 5,273 deaths, KPK 4,240 deaths, ICT 773 deaths, AJK 570 deaths of which one death was reported in the past 24 hours, Balochistan with 297 deaths three of them died on Tuesday, and GB 108 deaths. A total of 13,934,493 corona tests have been conducted so far, while 639 hospitals are equipped with Covid facilities. Some 2,749 corona patients were admitted in hospitals across the country.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021


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