OXYGEN cylinders are being arranged at a private outlet in the city on Sunday amid an increase in demand caused by a sudden surge in coronavirus cases over the past week.—Online
OXYGEN cylinders are being arranged at a private outlet in the city on Sunday amid an increase in demand caused by a sudden surge in coronavirus cases over the past week.—Online

KARACHI: As 500,000 more doses of Sinopharm vaccine arrived from China, the Sindh government’s plan to import 10 million doses from the neighbouring country may take another few weeks to materialise as first such shipment is likely to arrive in the third week of May, officials and sources said on Sunday.

A senior Sindh government official confirmed that the authorities had formally placed the order for 10m doses of the vaccine developed by CanSino Biologics but there were slim chances of an early delivery because of a huge demand.

In a recent communication between the two sides, it emerged that the order would be delivered in phases and the first shipment was not likely before the second or third week of the next month.

“The two sides are in constant touch with each other,” Sindh CM’s Adviser Barrister Murtaza Wahab, who is also the provincial government’s spokesman, told Dawn. “The Sindh government is committed to execute its plan and make the vaccine available at the earliest. But the matter is linked with so many other things. The global demand is huge and many orders from different parts of the world have already lined up. We have been informed recently that we would be able to get our first shipment by the second or third week of May. In the first phase, we expect the shipment of two million doses.”

‘Facility at Ojha campus of DUHS available to store 10m doses’

The Sindh government had earlier this month announced its plan to order 10m doses of Chinese company CanSino Biologics’ Covid-19 vaccine and in an immediate response it had sent a letter of intent to the AJM Pharma, which is the representative company for the Chinese vaccine in Pakistan, for its required doses of the vaccines.

Later, the Sindh government allocated Rs1.5 billion for the acquisition of the vaccine and a formal order was placed after the federal government allowed provinces to import the jabs independently.

Plan to store vaccines after import

Meanwhile, the provincial health department has taken up the task to preserve the huge quantity of the vaccines.

Health officials along with experts and medical scientists spotted several government facilities and few of them have been marked to undertake the job. An official sounded confident when asked about the province’s capacity and capability to properly store the stocks of the Covid-19 vaccine.

“We have a facility available to us on the Ojha campus of the Dow University of Health Sciences which can be used for this purpose,” said Qasim Soomro, a PPP MPA from Tharparkar, who is one of the members of the Provincial Vaccine Administration Cell headed by the Sindh health secretary.

“We are taking every possible step to accomplish this huge task and without any hiccups. With a team of experts and officials of the health department, a dedicated effort is being made to utilise all available resources for a successful vaccination programme in all Sindh districts.”

He said currently the vaccination centres in Sindh were operating successfully and with the passage of time the number of such facilities would be increased to cater to a maximum number of people.

“This is a national challenge and all of us need to put our contribution to meet it. Those engaged in the process – government, experts and professionals from public and private sectors as well as volunteers – are putting in their 100 per cent contribution. Their commitment and ambition give us belief that we will meet the challenge,” he said.

Published in Dawn, April 26th, 2021

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