Ministry rejects notion vaccine not safe for elderly people

Published February 5, 2021
A paramedic prepares a dose of the Sinopharm's coronavirus vaccine, donated by China, before administering it to a health worker at a vaccination centre in Karachi. — Reuters/File
A paramedic prepares a dose of the Sinopharm's coronavirus vaccine, donated by China, before administering it to a health worker at a vaccination centre in Karachi. — Reuters/File

ISLAMABAD: The Ministry of National Health Services (NHS) on Thursday rejected a perception that Sinopharm’s Covid-19 vaccine was not safe for people over 60 years of age.

“Some people have misinterpreted the guidelines of the vaccine. The fact is that it is a research-based recommendation that people over 60 years of age should not be vaccinated. The clinical trial of vaccine was held on people from 18 to 60 years of age; so as per protocols, people of the same age group should be vaccinated. It does not mean that the vaccine is not safe for people of over 60 years of age. They can be vaccinated once the company releases data regarding clinical trial on them,” NHS ministry’s spokesperson Sajid Shah said while talking to Dawn.

“However, it needs to be understood that the vaccine is only being administered to frontline healthcare workers — who generally retire at the age of 60 from public sector hospitals and the same protocol is being used for private hospitals. People over 65 years of age will be vaccinated in the second phase for which even registration of such people has not yet started,” Mr Shah said.

The guidelines of Sinopharm, available with Dawn, state that people over 60 years of age, those who take a high dose of steroid, undergoing cancer treatment, received Corona plasma, fever, AIDS, lactating mothers and pregnant women should not be vaccinated.

Over 1,500 new Covid-19 cases, 31 deaths reported

Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Health Dr Faisal Sultan, while talking to media persons, said a discussion was going on that Sinopharm’s vaccine was not safe for the people over 60 years of age. “Since people over 60 years of age were hardly vaccinated during the clinical trial, it was decided not to vaccinate them. There is nothing unusual in it and such people will be allowed to get vaccine once the company issues data regarding people of higher age group. However, there is no age limit for AstraZeneca’s vaccine which will be administered to the people over 60 years of age,” he said.

China has donated half a million doses of Sinopharm which are being administered to frontline healthcare workers. Moreover, Covax, an international alliance, has announced giving 17 million free doses of AstraZeneca till June this year and its supply will start in the third week of this month.

According to data of the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC), as many as 1,508 Covid-19 cases and 31 deaths were reported during the last 24 hours. While 277 ventilators were occupied across the country on Thursday, the number of active cases reached 32,889.

Published in Dawn, February 5th, 2021

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