ISLAMABAD: Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination Dr Faisal Sultan on Tuesday said Pakistan was hopeful of receiving the first batch of COVID-19 vaccine from China’s Sinopharm in early February.
Pakistan said last month it would purchase 1.2 million vaccine doses from Sinopharm in the first official confirmation of a vaccine purchase as the country battles a second wave of infections.
“We hope to be able to get vaccine doses from Sinopharm in the first quarter of this year, hopefully starting in early February,” Dr Sultan said in an interview with Arab News, adding that the government aimed to begin the process of vaccination within the first quarter of this year.
“We are hoping to deploy the vaccine within the first quarter. The 1.1 million doses are just the first phase,” he said. Sultan said the government was looking at “multiple options” and was in touch with all companies whose vaccines had been approved internationally.
The National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) on Sunday started registering frontline health care workers who will be vaccinated in the first phase. “This is the first batch of 1.2 million doses for health workers; there will be more orders which will be used for the public in phases,” said Dr Atta-ur-Rahman, chairman of the COVID-19 task force.
Meanwhile, Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar Tuesday said the government’s decisions to cope with the second wave of COVID-19 yielded positive results, as the number of new cases, hospitalised patients, those on ventilators and deaths had started coming down after witnessing peak in December 2020.
Addressing the media after chairing a meeting of the National Command and Operation Center (NCOC), Asad said by end November, the NCOC decided to close down some selected sectors again to prevent the spread of the deadly pandemic.
By the start of December, he said hospitals across the country were receiving the highest number of patients but later on the trend started declining. Similarly, he said in the second week of December, the number of those on oxygen was the highest and then in the third week the number of patients on ventilators and deaths peaked.
After that the trend started easing and now it was on the downward trajectory, he added. Asad Umar however warned that the second wave proved to be deadlier and in the western countries and the US, the number of deaths was more than that in the first wave so “we should be highly careful at this last stage of the pandemic.”
He said government decisions and results were highly correlated that is why people should observe all the precautionary measures suggested by the NCOC and the health authorities. The minister said vaccine from China would land in Pakistan soon and first it would be used for the frontline health workers such as medical staff and then for the common people.
The minister pointed out that during the first wave, by April, over 20 million workers out of 50 million were of the view that their livelihood was badly affected due to the lockdowns. After establishment of NCOC, Prime Minister Imran Khan directed implementation of such a strategy that should allow the workers, especially poor daily wagers, to work by adhering to the precautionary measures, he added.
He said on the direction of prime minister, the NCOC started implementing the smart lockdown policy that was acknowledged by the world including the World Health Organization (WHO).
He said within a few weeks after the establishment of NCOC, the country’s economy witnessed a "V" shaped recovery. For example, he said construction and industrial sectors employing 46 percent workers worked were witnessing a speedy growth.
On the contrary, he said millions of people in India were struggling due to the bad policies of their government. He said about 80 percent workers of construction, 72 percent of industrial and 67 percent of transport sector lost their jobs and that was why the government decided to open these sectors on priority.
Meanwhile, the national tally of active COVID-19 cases Tuesday reached 34,007, as 2,408 more people tested positive with 3,606 recoveries during the 24 hours.
Forty-one patients lost their lives out of which 36 were under treatment in hospitals and five others in their respective homes or quarantines, according to the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC).
Most of the deaths occurred in Punjab followed by Sindh. Out of the total 41 deaths, 27 patients died on the ventilator. No affected person was on the ventilator in Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) and Balochistan, while 320 ventilators were occupied elsewhere in Pakistan.
The maximum ventilators were occupied in four major areas including Multan 58 percent, ICT 36 percent, Bahawalpur 50 percent and Peshawar 32 percent. The maximum oxygen beds (alternative oxygen providing facility other than ventilator administered as per medical requirement of COVID-19 patient) was also occupied in four major areas. In Peshawar, it was 51 percent, 32 percent in Multan, 37 percent in Karachi and 30 percent in Rawalpindi.
Around 40,088 tests were conducted across the country on Monday, including 14,137 in Sindh, 14,499 in Punjab, 5,001 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), 5,277 in Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT), 574 in Balochistan, 367 in GB, and 233 in AJK.
Around 461,977 people have recovered so far across Pakistan making it a significant count with over 86 percent recovery ratio. Since the pandemic outbreak, a total of 506,701 cases have been detected including AJK 8,501, Balochistan 18,429, GB 4,882, ICT 39,340, KP 61,648, Punjab 146,016 and Sindh 227,885.
Around 10,717 deaths have been recorded countrywide since the eruption of the contagion with around 3,708 deaths in Sindh, 4,299 in Punjab, 1,743 in KP, 443 in ICT, 188 in Balochistan, 101 in GB and 235 in AJK. A total of 7,162,626 tests have been conducted so far, while 630 hospitals are equipped with COVID facilities.
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