ISLAMABAD: The National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) on Wednesday simultaneously initiated a national immunisation drive against the coronavirus in all federating units including Azad Jammu and Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan.
The moment marks a significant milestone in the country’s fight against the virus that has infected 549,032 and killed 11,802 as of Wednesday. Active cases stood at 33,184 after 1,384 more people tested positive. Fifty-six patients died in a 24-hour period, according to the NCOC.
The NCOC held the inaugural ceremony of the national Covid immunisation programme with Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar in the chair, flanked by NCOC National Coordinator Lt-Gen Hamood Uz Zaman Khan.
China’s Commercial Minister Xie Guoxiang was the chief guest, while science and technology minister Fawad Chaudhry, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Health Dr Faisal Sultan and aide on Poverty Alleviation Dr Sania Nishtar were also present. Umar lauded the sacrifices and meritorious services of frontline healthcare workers for serving the nation during the pandemic. “Frontline healthcare workers are our real heroes. No doubt they have put their lives at risk in their fight against Covid-19 and we pay tribute to all of them.”
He also thanked the Chinese government for supporting Pakistan during the Covid-19 crisis. He also paid tribute to the NCOC team and provincial authorities closely collaborating in the fight against Covid-19 at the forum.
The Sindh ceremony took place at Dow University Ojha Vaccination Centre where Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah was the chief guest. In Punjab, Chief Minister Usman Buzdar was the chief guest in the vaccination ceremony. In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Chief Minister Mahmood Khan was the chief guest of inoculation ceremony. The vaccination ceremony in Balochistan was held at the Chief Minister’s Secretariat.
In Azad Jammu and Kashmir, the vaccination was held at the PM Secretariat whereas in Gilgit-Baltistan inoculation was held at CS secretariat with the GB Chief Minister as chief guest. Dr Faisal Sultan said the government’s goal is to cover 70 per cent of eligible vaccine recipients by the end of this year. Dr Sultan said the government has the capacity to vaccinate 40,000 eligible recipients against Covid-19 in a day, which will be further expended.
Dr Sultan said the Chinese Sinopharm vaccine is a good vaccine with 79-86 per cent efficacy rate during trials in China and Hungary while its effectiveness ratio was 86 per cent in the UAE. “This vaccine will be helpful in controlling Covid-19 in the country,” he added.
He said out of the country’s 220 million population, around 100 million citizens are eligible for Covid-19 vaccine, adding, a third of them would be covered during current year. He said besides Sinopharm, under GAVI-COVAX programme for countries, Pakistan is likely to receive 17 million doses of a Covid-19 vaccine. Dr Sultan said seven million doses would be available in first quarter while 10 million doses will be released in the second quarter.
He added that Pakistan is also in touch with other countries to get 73 million doses, which it is likely to receive in the last quarter. He said the government has completed training of vaccinators and other related staff while software has been developed for having daily figures of vaccination activities.
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Police, while quoting the initial investigation, ruled out the possibility of any criminal act behind the incident