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Friday November 26, 2021

First coronavirus jab administered in Pakistan

Prime Minister Imran Khan kicks off vaccination drive, reminding people to continue to exercise precautions

By Web Desk
February 02, 2021
Prime Minister Imran Khan supervising the first coronavirus shot as Pakistan kicks off its vaccination drive, on February 2, 2021. — INP

The first coronavirus vaccine was administered in Pakistan on Tuesday, given to a healthcare worker in Islamabad.

Prime Minister Imran Khan kicked off the vaccination drive, reminding the people to continue to exercise precautions.

The first shot was  given under the supervision of the prime minister, his adviser on health Dr Faisal Sultan, and National Command and Operations Centre chief Asad Umar.

"The more you abide by coronavirus safety measures, the easier it will be to protect everyone from the virus," said PM Imran Khan, addressing a gathering to mark the occasion.

"I congratulate [all those present here] for working at great speed to import a vaccine. We also thank China for gifting us 500,000 vaccines," he said.

The prime minister said that similar to the shot the doctor had received, healthcare workers across the country that work with coronavirus patients will be the first to be given the jab, after which the age groups most at risk will be administered the shot.

The premier also sought to assure the nation that the vaccine distribution across the various provinces is being done in a "just" manner. "No one should think we distributed more vaccines in a given province than in others."

He stressed the importance of healthcare workers getting the shot as "all over the world it is the healthcare workers that are most at risk".

"I also wish to stress to the nation the importance of coronavirus SOPs (standard operating procedures) and especially, wearing a mask.

If God has blessed us compared to the situation in other countries, then we should be thankful and should also take full precautions. If there is one thing that slows down the spread of coronavirus, it is a mask.

The prime minister said that schools have been reopened and so will hospitals soon enough. "Our cases are at a decline right now. The more you follow SOPs, the easier it will be to save our people from coronavirus."

He said that other countries, owing to the high death rate, 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, then all remaining sectors will be reopened," PM Imran Khan said.

Provinces to begin vaccination drive tomorrow

China's gift of 500,000 vaccines arrived in Pakistan on Monday, with storage arrangements made in advance in Islamabad.

Despatch of the vaccine to all federating units has been ensured, said the NCOC in a statement today. It said Sindh and Balochistan were sent the vaccine by air, presumably to reduce time and ensure cold chain storage temperature.

It was earlier 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 kick-start the vaccination drive in Sindh, during which 41,500 healthcare 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 can not cater to the province's requirement.

While talking to Geo News in programme "Geo Pakistan" today, the provincial government's spokesperson Liaquat Shahwani said there are 22,000 healthcare workers in the province.

Sinopharm vaccine

Pakistan has approved, among two other vaccines, the emergency use of one developed by Sinopharm, a state-run Chinese firm.

According to a BBC report, Sinopharm announced on December 30 that phase three trials of 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 the Oxford-AstraZeneca (70.4% effective) and the Sputnik V (91.4% effective) vaccines.

COVAX, a WHO initiative to ensure supply of vaccines to all countries, has indicated a supply of up to 17 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine for Pakistan in the first half of 2021, according to the chief of the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC), Asad Umar.

DRAP had earlier 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 firm, AGP Limited, had applied for registration, marketing and distribution of the (Sputnik V) vaccine in Pakistan,” a DRAP official said.