PESHAWAR: As Covid-19 has claimed 31 more lives and infected 629 others in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, a senior public health expert has urged people to get vaccinated because its efficacy and safety has proven worldwide.

A report of health department said that fatalities in the province reached 3,497 and cased swelled to 121,728. Mardan reported 11 deaths, Peshawar seven, Charsadda, Bannu and Bajaur three each, Swat two and Abbottabad and Dera Ismail Khan reported one each.

The number of total recovered patients reached 107,370 (88 per cent) in the province. The report said 813 patients recovered from the infectious ailment during the last 24 hours. There are 10,861 active cases in the province now.

“The safety of vaccine has now been well-documented as several scientific studies have shown. Many scientific studies have reported on its efficacy,” Prof Ziaul Haq, the vice-chancellor of Khyber Medical University (KMU), told Dawn.

Expert urges people to get vaccinated

He said that of the 95million people vaccinated in the US, only 9,000 (0.00009 per cent) got infection, 835 (0.000008 per cent) required hospitalisation and 132 (0.000001 per cent) died. The US has vaccinated the second highest number of people after China. “The risk of dying of Covid-19 is much higher than this,” he said.

Prof Zia said that it was absolutely wrong to say that vaccination decreased immunity or it caused infection. The people, who got infected or became symptomatic around the first dose, more likely had already been exposed to the virus before vaccination, considering the incubation period of the virus, he added.

“Secondly, there are higher chances that the protective behaviours are relaxed unintentionally due to the feeling of being safe,” he said.

Prof Zia said that all people should get vaccinated irrespective of the fact if they had been infected with the virus due to the fact that the antibodies developed after an infection generally only lasted for two to three months. For this, a person getting a vaccine after he has fully recovered, the vaccination will work as booster dose and will benefit him additionally.

“Booster dose is something we usually use in routine vaccination as well to strengthen immunity. If someone gets infected after the first dose, he/she should wait till the symptoms subside and then get the second dose. This again will work as booster dose,” he said.

He also shared his own vaccination experience. “I got my first Sinopharm vaccine on March 15 with no complaints. Post-vaccination, I attended a gathering (relaxation in the protective behaviour), which I should not have done and got infected as expected. My PCR test came positive on March 25. This has nothing to do with vaccination. I only had mild to moderate symptoms and recovered. On April 23, I did my antibodies and they were 338.5 (cut-off 50),” he explained.

Prof Zia said that on April 29, he had his second Sinopharm vaccine, again with no complaints. “The message is loud and clear, get your vaccine regardless of your history of Covid-19, age or antibodies status, he added.

He said that government should make more efforts to provide vaccine to everyone through public and private sector. He said that government, non-governmental organisations and community should make joint efforts to get global herd immunity along with focusing on the country.

Till May 4, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa vaccinated 58,666 health workers with the first dose and 37,016 with the second dose while 188,355 senior citizens were given fist dose and 67,250 got the second dose, according to health department.

Following initial reluctance by health professionals, which slowed down vaccination, the health department on Wednesday vaccinated 25,000 persons including health workers and senior citizens as people started registering themselves for vaccination.

Published in Dawn, May 6th, 2021

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