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January 19, 2021

Sindh to establish vaccine fund as Centre delays getting Covid-19 vaccine, says Azra Pechuho

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January 19, 2021

KARACHI: The Sindh government has decided to establish a ‘Covid-19 vaccine procurement fund’ with an initial capital of Rs1.5 billion for the procurement of vaccine for its frontline healthcare workers and the government has already started negotiating with private parties and manufacturers of the two vaccines, given emergency use authorization in Pakistan by the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP).

“Instead of waiting for the Covid-19 vaccine to be acquired by the federal government, we have decided to establish an emergency fund of Rs1.5 billion initially and procure vaccine for our frontline workers within a few weeks’ time. So far, we have 80,000 registered frontline workers but this can go up to 125,000 in entire Sindh who are directly dealing with the Covid-19 patients,” Sindh Health Minister Dr. Azra Pechuho told The News on Monday.

Accusing the federal government of causing unnecessary delay in acquiring the vaccine, the health minister claimed that their sources in the National Command and Operation Center (NCOC), Islamabad, have revealed that the federal government would not be able to acquire the vaccine even by end of March 2021.

“Earlier, the federal government announced making the vaccine available by January 15, then they said it would reach Pakistan by end January and then moved the timeline to February but when we spoke to our people in NCOC, they expressed the fear that vaccine may not even be available by the end of March.

At this, we decided to start negotiating with vaccine suppliers and manufacturers ourselves as we can’t see our frontline healthcare workers dying,” she added.Dr. Azra said they are negotiating with the supplier of Oxford-Astrazeneca’s vaccine AZD1222, which has quoted a price of USD 13.5 to 15.5 per dose and added that talks are underway with the Astrazeneca and their local supplier for a fair price so we could acquire the vaccine and start inoculating at least out frontline workers.

To a query, she said they were also in contact with the Sinopharm whose trials were also held in Pakistan by the International Center of Chemical and Biological Sciences (ICCBS), saying as soon as the Sinopharm’s vaccine gets the DRAP’s emergency use authorization, the Sindh government would ask the company to provide the initial supply for the healthcare workers.

Deploring the death of Additional Director General (ADG) Health Sindh Dr. Abdul Khaliq Domki due to Covid-19 a few days ago, she said around 36 healthcare workers have lost their lives in Sindh, of which 28 were doctors alone. “Around 2,892 doctors, 862 nurses and 980 paramedics have so far contracted the infectious disease in the province,” she added.

The provincial health minister said they have also decided to establish an online portal for people over 60 years of age and those having comorbidities to register themselves with the help of their Computerized National Identity Cards (CNICs) and added that after the frontline workers, the elderly and those having diabetes, hypertension and other diseases would be identified through the portal and vaccinated.