Govt optimistic of getting Covid vaccine soon

Published January 10, 2021
Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Health Dr Faisal Sultan has expressed optimism of acquiring the vaccine at the earliest. - File photo
Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Health Dr Faisal Sultan has expressed optimism of acquiring the vaccine at the earliest. - File photo

• WHO urges manufacturers to prioritise vaccine supply • Gallup survey says over 70pc Pakistanis think govt handled Covid-19 crisis well

ISLAMABAD: As the international coalition Covax, which has pledged to provide 50 million free doses of Covid-19 vaccine to Pakistan, secured contracts of two billion doses, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Health Dr Faisal Sultan expressed optimism of acquiring the vaccine at the earliest.

Talking to Dawn, Dr Sultan said he was aware of the progress made by Covax.

“Being a country having a large population we believe that we will get the vaccine at the earliest. We are also doing bilateral agreements to vaccinate a large chunk of the population,” he said.

Covax is an international alliance which has pledged free vaccine for 20pc population of around 190 countries, including Pakistan. It is hoped that the country will receive the first consignment by the end of the first quarter or just after the start of second quarter of 2021.

On the other hand, World Health Organisation (WHO) Director General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has alleged that rich nations have purchased majority of the supply, urging manufacturers to prioritise the supply through Covax as low- and most middle-income countries had still not received the vaccine.

Meanwhile, Pakistan reported over 2,000 more cases of coronavirus in a single day with 40 people succumbing to the virus.

In another development, Gallup survey revealed that seven out of 10 Pakistanis believe that the government handled the Covid-19 crisis well.

Special Assistant Dr Faisal Sultan said the vaccination process in Pakistan had been divided into three phases with the health professionals and those over the age of 65 getting priority, followed by the population in the age bracket of 60-65 as well as other healthcare workers. The number of people to be vaccinated in the second phase comes to around 7 million, Dr Sultan said, adding that the remaining people will be vaccinated in the third phase which will be completed by November this year.

The special assistant said the government’s target was to vaccinate 70 million of the country’s population to achieve herd immunity.

Meanwhile, according to WHO statement, Director General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, in a briefing, said Covax — set up by Global Alliance for Vaccines and Imm­unisation (GAVI), Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) and WHO in April last year — had secured contracts of two billion doses of safe and effective Covid-19 vaccines and would roll them out as soon as they were received.

“At present 42 countries are rolling out safe and effective Covid-19 vaccines out of which 36 were high-income countries and six middle-income. So there is a clear problem that low- and most middle-income countries are not receiving the vaccine yet. This is a problem we can and we must solve together through Covax. At the outset, rich countries have bought up the majority of the supply of multiple vaccines. Now we’re also seeing both high and middle-income countries that are part of Covax making additional bilateral deals. This potentially bumps up the price for everyone and means high-risk people in the poorest and most marginalised countries do not get the vaccine,” he said.

According to a Gallup Pakistan Survey and similar surveys done by Worldwide Independent Network of Market Research across the world, seven in 10 (73pc) Pakistanis think that the government handled the Covid-19 crisis well whereas 23pc believe that it did a bad job.

Improved ratings for governments during the Covid-19 pandemic is also seen in other countries as citizens rallying behind their elected leaders in difficult times.

During the survey titled ‘Covid-19: Government Hand­ling of the Crisis’ as many as 26,759 individuals from 32 countries across the globe were interviewed about the pandemic.

“Pakistan reported 73pc satisfaction with government handling of the crisis; this is the same as the average in Asia Pacific region. Pakistan ranks 8th among 32 countries surveyed with respect to satisfaction with government handling of the crisis,” the survey report stated.

Over 2,000 cases reported

According to data released by the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC), 2,007 cases and 40 deaths were reported in a single day while 305 ventilators were in use across the country.

In Bahawalpur, 45 per cent of the vents allocated for Covid-19 patients were occupied, 44pc in Multan, 40pc in Islamabad and 33pc were in use in Lahore.

The data further said that the number of active cases as of Saturday was recorded at 33,474.

Published in Dawn, January 10th, 2021

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