ISLAMABAD: As the Cabinet Committee on Procurement of Covid-19 Vaccine on Tuesday briefed Prime Minister Imran Khan on the efforts being made to engage more pharmaceutical companies for procurement of the vaccine, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) expressed serious concern over the federal government’s decision to ask provinces and the private sector to import the vaccine.
The prime minister was informed that two vaccines had been registered for emergency use and efforts for fast-track registration of more vaccines were under way.
Mr Khan was also informed that that the vaccine would be available within the first quarter of the current year.
HRCP wants govt to provide vaccine at subsidised rates
Meanwhile, the HRCP said that the federal government’s decision to allow provinces and the private sector to procure the vaccine for Covid-19 was not the right step as it was the responsibility of the federal government to provide vaccines at heavily subsidised rates to the poor masses which formed a majority of the country’s population.
“The people of lower income group are struggling hard to survive the unprecedented economic crisis unleashed by misplaced priorities and pro-rich policies of the federal government. The foreign aid received and funding allocated for fighting the pandemic must be used transparently and spent on vaccinating the citizens,” the HRCP said.
The HRCP expressed concern after reports appearing in the electronic and social media that some of the agents in Karachi had started pre-booking of AstraZeneca vaccine for Rs 20,000 per dose.
When Dawn contacted a man named Usman, whose number was being circulated in health circles as the person responsible for making booking for the vaccine, he asked if a single dose of the vaccine was required or all members of the family needed it. When Mr Usman later came to know that the caller was from Islamabad, he said the vaccine would be available once the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (Drap) fixed its price.
He also said that it might take a few months to deliver the vaccine.
Meanwhile, according to the data released by the National Command and Operation Centre here, 1,800 new cases and 58 deaths were reported due to Covid-19 on Tuesday in the country.
The total number of people died across the country because of the deadly pandemic has now reached 11,055.
Published in Dawn, January 20th, 2021