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Pakistan

Web Desk
June 17, 2021

Several parts of Sindh face acute dearth of vaccines due to disrupted supply from Centre

Web Desk
Thu, Jun 17, 2021
Photo: File

Owing to a disruption in vaccine supply from the Centre, several vaccination centres across Sindh, including Hyderabad, had to temporarily close due to a shortage of vaccines.

According to the Sindh Health Department, forty per cent of the vaccination centres in Hyderabad and parts of lower Sindh had to be temporarily shut down as they ran out of vaccine stock.

Meanwhile, the remaining vaccination centres are only facilitating those who visit to get the second dose of the vaccine.

Per the Sindh Health Department, the shortage of vaccines is being faced because the federal government has not sent the supply to the province, adding that the new stock is expected to arrive by June 20.

In Hyderabad, 21 vaccination centres have run out of vaccine stocks, the district health officer said.

Logistics, coordination challenges disrupt vaccine supply in Pakistan

Pakistan on Tuesday faced a shortage of COVID-19 vaccines due to the lack of coordination among government bodies, coupled with a disruption in supply from China.

Officials in the federal government said that the task of procuring the vaccines had been assigned to the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) while the National Health Ministry was relieved of this 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 in the name of 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.

In the beginning, the Pakistan government inoculated people with the double-dose Sinopharm vaccine from China, followed by AstraZeneca from the UK before opting for SinoVac and single-shot Cansino from China.

The National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC), which had received 100,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine, has supplied 26,000 doses to Punjab, which will be administered to immunocompromised people, such as patients of organ transplant, cancer, and AIDS on a priority basis.

When contacted, a spokesman of the Ministry of National Health Services, Regulations & Coordination said that the shortage of vaccine has spread thinly across the country. Therefore, he suggested that the relocation of vaccines from limited use CVCs was required.

He further said that only limited quantities of vaccines were reserved centrally. “The next consignments of vaccines are expected towards the end of the current week,” he told The News.

Pakistan's vaccine supply to improve after June 20 when more doses arrive: Dr Faisal Sultan

Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination Dr Faisal Sultan on Wednesday said that the government is making sincere efforts to ensure the availability of the COVID-19 vaccine at all vaccination centres and more doses are expected to arrive soon.

In a media briefing, Dr Sultan said that, so far, 20 million citizens have 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 "hearsay" and said that shortages were a "global phenomenon". He said that 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.

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

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

The premier's aide on health said that 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 that 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.”