The first coronavirus vaccine was administered in Pakistan on Tuesday and was given to a health worker in Islamabad.
Prime Minister Imran Khan started the vaccination drive and reminded the people to continue exercising precautions.
The first shot was given under the supervision of the Prime Minister, his health adviser Dr. Faisal Sultan and the head of the National Command and Operations Center Asad Umar.
“The more you comply with coronavirus security measures, the easier it will be to protect everyone from the virus,” said Prime Minister Imran Khan, speaking at a rally to mark the occasion.
“I congratulate you [all those present here] to work at high speed to import a vaccine. We also thank China for giving us 500,000 vaccines, ”he said.
The Prime Minister said that similar to the shot the doctor had received, healthcare professionals across the country working with coronavirus patients will be the first to get the jab, after which the age groups most at risk will get the shot.
The premiere also sought to reassure the nation that vaccine distribution across the various provinces is taking place in a “fair” way. “No one should think that we distributed more vaccines in a given province than in others.”
He stressed the importance of health professionals getting the shot, as “everywhere in the world, it is health workers who are most at risk”.
“I would also like to emphasize to the nation the importance of coronavirus SOPs (standard operating procedures) and especially wearing a mask.
If God has blessed us in relation to the situation in other countries, we should be grateful and also take the full precautions. If there’s one thing that slows down the spread of coronavirus, it’s a mask.
The Prime Minister said schools have been reopened and so will hospitals doing so soon enough. “Our cases are in decline right now. The more you follow SOPs, the easier it will be to save our people from coronavirus.”
He said other countries due to the high death toll have had to go for complete lockdowns.
“Our economy is running and it is the service sector that has been curtailed. If you exercise caution, all remaining sectors will reopen,” said Prime Minister Imran Khan.
Provinces begin vaccination drive tomorrow
China’s gift of 500,000 vaccines arrived in Pakistan on Monday with storage arrangements made in advance in Islamabad.
Dispatch of the vaccine to all federal units is secured, the NCOC said in a statement today. It said Sindh and Balochistan were sent the vaccine by plane, likely to reduce time and secure cold-chain storage temperatures.
It was previously reported that Sindh will receive 8,300 doses which will be transported to Karachi via a commercial flight.
A ceremony will be held at the Chief Minister House on Wednesday to start the vaccination drive in Sindh, where 41,500 health workers will be vaccinated.
Meanwhile, the Balochistan government has asked the federal government to increase its quota of COVID-19 vaccines, as 5,000 doses cannot meet the province’s requirements.
While talking to Geo News in the program “Geo Pakistan” today, provincial government spokesman Liaquat Shahwani said there are 22,000 health workers in the province.
Pakistan has, among two other vaccines, approved emergency use of one developed by Sinopharm, a state-run Chinese company.
According to a BBC report, Sinopharm announced on 30 December that phase three trials with the vaccine showed that it was 79% effective.
Other vaccines approved for use
The other two vaccines approved for use by the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP) are Oxford-AstraZeneca (70.4% effective) and Sputnik V (91.4% effective).
COVAX, a WHO initiative to ensure the delivery of vaccines to all countries, has indicated a supply of up to 17 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine to Pakistan in the first half of 2021, according to the head of the National Command and Operation Center (NCOC)) , Asad Umar.
DRAP had previously expressed hope that the first batch of the Sputnik V vaccine would reach Pakistan by the end of January. It is not known how soon it will be available.
“A local pharmaceutical company, AGP Limited, had applied for registration, marketing and distribution of the (Sputnik V) vaccine in Pakistan,” said a DRAP official.