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January 22, 2021

China to gift Pakistan 500,000 corona vaccine doses

Top Story

January 22, 2021

ISLAMABAD: China has assured Pakistan of provision of 500,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses by January 31, while 1.1 million doses will be made available by the end of February. Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi announced this after making a phone call to his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi at the residence of Prime Minister Imran Khan.

In a video message and a series of tweets, the foreign minister said the vaccine doses will help save many precious human lives. Pakistan, on China’s request, is expected to send an aircraft to Beijing to airlift the lifesaving drugs.

An expert said the reason for sending an aircraft was that China had currently suspended all flights in view of resurgence of COVID-19 pandemic and it would be a special flight. Qureshi said Pakistan will not have to pay for the first batch arriving this month, which will be a "huge assistance". "This is a hand of goodwill and friendship that China has extended to us; I am grateful to them," he added.

"I want to break this good news to the nation that China has promised to immediately provide 500,000 doses of vaccine to Pakistan by January 31. It is always great to speak to my friend, His Excellency Wang Yi.

With encouraging results of Chinese vaccine and our historic relationship, Pakistan has approved emergency use authorization of SinoPharm. Indeed, we greatly appreciate 500,000 doses gifted by China,” Qureshi said.

Earlier, the government had announced pre-booking of 1.1m doses. It is not clear whether any payment will have to be paid for the February consignment and what would be the cost. SinoPharm’s data released recently shows 79.3% efficacy.

Qureshi said Prime Minister Imran Khan asked him to increase interaction with the Chinese government considering the sensitivity of the situation.

“When I told Wanj Yi that 500,000 dozes will not be enough, he said, ‘we plan to fulfill this requirement of yours as well by the end of February and 1.1m doses will be made available to you.’”

Qureshi said he was assured by Mr. Li, "We want to assure Pakistan that our cooperation with you will continue”. Qureshi also updated Wang Li on the ongoing trials on another vaccine CanSino whose results were encouraging.

"Pakistan has a huge population and in order to meet its needs, we also discussed whether we can move forward together on CanSino vaccine's production and manufacture in Pakistan after the completion of new trials," he said, adding that his Chinese counterpart had agreed to the proposal.

Qureshi also lauded the National Command and Operations Centre (NCOC) for doing a great job as Pakistan had successfully fought the pandemic.

Meanwhile, the foreign minister represented Pakistan at the virtual format of 17th Asia Cooperation Dialogue (ACD) Ministerial Meeting.

ACD is a continent-wide forum, which provides a platform to Asian countries to regularly exchange views on areas of mutual interest and foster an Asian community. Pakistan is one of the founding members of ACD and assigns high priority to this forum.

Qureshi touched on the devastating repercussions of Covid-19 for sustainable development and developing countries stressing the need to coordinate actions, benefit from each other’s experiences, and pool resources for responding to the pandemic and financing the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.