Pakistan to get 6m AstraZeneca doses from Covax by March: Asad

Published January 30, 2021
Sharing the "good news" on Twitter, the minister said that around six million doses will be received by March with delivery starting as early as February. — AFP/File
Sharing the "good news" on Twitter, the minister said that around six million doses will be received by March with delivery starting as early as February. — AFP/File

Minister for Planning and Development Asad Umar said on Saturday that Pakistan had received a letter from the World Health Organisation’s Covax platform, indicating of a supply of up to 17 million doses of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine during the first half of 2021.

Sharing the "good news" on Twitter, the minister said that around six million doses will be received by March with delivery starting as early as February.

"We signed with Covax nearly eight months back to ensure availability," he wrote.

Meanwhile, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister (SAPM) on Health Dr Faisal Sultan said he was "happy to share" that in addition to the 500,000 doses of the SinoPharm vaccine, almost seven million doses of the AstraZeneca jab will be made available and given to the public free of cost.

"Pakistan’s vaccine drive starts next week, beginning with frontline healthcare workers," he said.

“We remain confident that we will meet our plan of large-scale immunisation over the coming months this year,” a press release shared by Sultan on Twitter said.

Covax is an alliance set up by Global Alliance for Vacc­ines and Immunisation (GAVI), Coalition for Epi­demic Preparedness Innova­­tions (CEPI) and the World Health Organisation in April last year. The alliance has pledged provision of free vaccine for 20pc of the population of different count­­ries, including Pakistan.

Pakistan has so far approved three coronavirus vaccines — the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, the vaccine developed by Chinese state-owned firm China National Pharmaceutical Group (SinoPharm) and Russian-developed Sputnik V.

However, the AstraZeneca vaccine has become embroiled in controversy as questions arise about its effectiveness as well as due to potential litigation because of delays in delivery to the European Union.

Read: AstraZeneca hit by Covid jab delays and disagreements

Germany's Robert Koch Institute has questioned the effectiveness of the jab among the over-65s, citing gaps in test data as the EU mulls the approval of the vaccine.

Plane to fly to China tomorrow for first tranche of vaccines

Earlier today, the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) was informed during its daily meeting that a special plane will fly to China tomorrow (Sunday) to bring back the first batch of the 500,000 vaccine doses that Beijing had promised to provide.

Read: NCOC outlines 8-step process for citizens to get vaccinated against the coronavirus

"All necessary measures have been put in place for vaccine storage at Islamabad and [for transporting it] to various federating units particularly to Sindh and Balochistan through air," a statement released after the meeting read.

It added that a central control cell has been established at the NCOC while dedicated cells have also been set up at provincial and district levels for the vaccination drive.

The forum also "deliberated in length about the vaccine administration strategy across Pakistan, administrative measures and particularly the movement of the initial tranche," the statement added.


Additional input from AFP

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