ISLAMABAD: With 37,289 healthcare workers having been inoculated against Covid-19 across the country since the launching of the vaccination drive, the government on Monday opened registration for people aged 65 years and above.
On the other hand, the country reported another 1,048 cases and 26 deaths in a single day.
Meanwhile, the representative body of doctors, Pakistan Medical Association (PMA), has expressed reservations over giving a free hand to companies in fixing vaccine prices.
In another development, following the outbreak of Ebola in Guinea, Pakistan has decided to follow the mechanism already in place for Covid-19 to stop possible transmission of the deadly virus.
Prime Minister Imran Khan had inaugurated the vaccination campaign for healthcare workers in Islamabad on Feb 2 after getting 500,000 doses of Chinese Sinopharm’s vaccine. The drive began in the country the next day.
It was also announced that people over the age of 65 years would be inoculated in the next phase.
On Monday, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Health Dr Faisal Sultan announced that the second phase registration had started.
“All Pakistanis above the age of 65 can start registration for Covid-19 vaccine starting today. Send an SMS from any mobile phone with your CNIC to 1166 or visit nims.nadra.gov.pk to get registered. Vaccine centre and date of appointment be communicated once vaccine arrives,” the PM’s aide tweeted.
Similarly, Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar, in his tweet, said registration had commenced and vaccination would start in March.
The PMA, meanwhile, expressed its concern over permitting companies to sell vaccines without placing a price cap.
“PMA appreciates the federal government’s decision to allow private companies to import coronavirus vaccine, but the decision of excluding the imported vaccines from the strict price cap regime that is typically applied to all drug sales within the country is not fair. It will give free hand to the companies to fix vaccine prices of their own choice and thus the prices will be higher,” the association said in a statement.
“PMA believes that the vaccine price matter should be dealt as per rules applied to all imported drugs and no price cap exemption should be given to any imported corona vaccine,” the statement added.
PMA Secretary General Dr Qaisar Sajjad said the association was also concerned about the supply chain of the vaccine and suggested that it should be strictly maintained according to the required standards so that its efficacy could be maintained.
He said the vaccination drive for healthcare workers in Pakistan was moving very slowly because of the confusion among healthcare workers.
“The government should start a massive campaign through media to rule out suspicion and fears about the vaccine,” Dr Sajjad said, adding that the vaccine, which is presently being administered to healthcare workers, was not recommended for those who were older than 60 years.
“We request the government to immediately import such a vaccine which can be administered to healthcare workers who are above 60,” he said.
An official of the Ministry of National Health Services, requesting not to be named, said 126,192 healthcare workers had registered and 37,289 got vaccinated across the country.
According to the National Command and Operation Centre, 1,048 people tested positive and 26 lost their lives in a single day.
The total number of active cases in the country was recorded at 25,747 with 2,115 patients admitted to hospitals across the country.
As Ebola likely to emerge as a new threat for the global community, Pakistan has decided to put in use the existing Covid-19 arrangements to deal with the virus.
Ministry of National Health Services spokesperson Sajid Shah said arrangements were already in place at entry points of the country and would be used to stop the virus from entering the country.
The World Health Organisation has declared the outbreak of Ebola in Guinea. In 2014, Ebola virus cases were reported from Guinea, Liberia, Mali, Sierra Leone, Spain, United States, Nigeria and Senegal.
From 2014-16 as many as 28,000 cases, including 11,000 deaths, were reported.
Ebola is a rare and deadly disease that infects people. The viruses that cause Ebola Virus Disease are located mainly in sub-Saharan Africa. People can get infected after coming in direct contact with an infected animal (bat or nonhuman primate) or a sick or dead person infected by the virus.-
Published in Dawn, February 16th, 2021