KARACHI: Renowned actor Talat Hussain being administered Covid-19 vaccine at the vaccination centre of Arts Council of Pakistan on Thursday.—APP
KARACHI: Renowned actor Talat Hussain being administered Covid-19 vaccine at the vaccination centre of Arts Council of Pakistan on Thursday.—APP

ISLAMABAD: As the country recorded the highest number of coronavirus cases in a single day since June last year, Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar said on Thursday that the government planned to open registration for Covid-19 vaccination for all citizens after Eid.

The number of Covid-19 cases, which had surpassed the figure of 5,000 last week, declined to around 4,000 a day for two days. However, data shared on Thursday showed that 5,329 cases were reported in a single day, the highest figure recorded in the last almost 10 months. In June 2020, about 5,325 cases were reported.

Speaking to senior journalists, Asad Umar termed the next five to six weeks critical for the ongoing third wave of the virus in Pakistan. He said that so far 14,000 people had received vaccine through the private sector, while 1.1 million were inoculated as part of the government campaign.

The minister said China was Pakistan’s “primary source” for vaccines for now, adding that Cansino Covid-19 vaccine would also be available in the country after Eid. “We will be able to vaccinate more than 125,000 people per day after Eid.”

Highest number of Covid-19 cases in a day since June last year

Mr Umar noted with concern that the current number of critical care patients in the country was higher than that during the first coronavirus wave. “Strict enforcement of SOPs (standard operating procedures) can bring down the rising rate of infection,” he stressed.

According to data released by the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC), 5,329 Covid-19 cases and 98 deaths were reported over the past 24 hours. The total number of active cases stood at 66,994 on Thursday. The data showed that 467 ventilators were in use across the country — 84 per cent of those in Gujranwala, 81pc in Multan, 75pc in Lahore and 58pc in Islamabad. About 85pc oxygenated beds were occupied in Gujranwala, 83pc in Peshawar, 73pc in Gujrat and 63pc in Swat.

100 countries get vaccine

International alliance Covax, which has pledged to provide free Covid-19 vaccine to 20 per cent population of Pakistan, said on Thursday that it had provided vaccines to 100 countries. Pakistan is not included in the list of 100 countries which have received more than 38 million doses of vaccines. However, Covax expects to deliver doses to all participating countries that have requested for vaccines, including Pakistan, in the first half of the year.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) in a statement said: “Covax has now delivered more than 38 million doses across six continents, supplied by three manufacturers, AstraZeneca, Pfizer-BioNTech and Serum Institute of India. Of the over 100 economies reached, 61 are among the 92 lower-income economies receiving vaccines funded through the Gavi/Covax Advance Market Commitment (AMC),” it stated.

Covax has been set up by the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation (Gavi), Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) and WHO in April last year.

In February, the NCOC had announced that Pakistan would receive 5.6m doses from Covax by the end of March, with 2.8m doses expected in the first week and another 2.8m doses by the second week of March. It had claimed that overall 17.1m doses would reach Pakistan by the end of June this year.

However, delivery was delayed due to high demand of vaccines in the countries where these were being produced.

“Despite reduced supply availability in March and April — the result of vaccine manufacturers scaling and optimising their production processes in the early phase of the rollout, as well as increased demand for Covid-19 vaccines in India — Covax expects to deliver doses to all participating economies that have requested vaccines in the first half of the year,” the WHO statement said.

Published in Dawn, April 9th, 2021

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