Special Assistant to the Prime Minister (SAPM) on Health Dr Faisal Sultan dismissed on Tuesday reports regarding the shortage of the Sinopharm vaccine.
Addressing a press conference in Islamabad, the prime minister’s aide said reports about the non-availability of Sinopharm vaccine were “baseless” and assured that it was the health authorities’ priority to administer the vaccine’s second dose to persons who had received a Sinopharm shot the first time.
However, he explained, since the Sinopharm vaccine may be reserved for second doses in case of a shortage, those visiting a vaccination centre for their first dose may be administered another vaccine.
“The priority will always be that a person is administered both the doses of the same vaccine,” Dr Sultan said, adding that significant measures had been taken for the purpose.
He also rejected reports regarding the side effects of the AstraZeneca vaccine, terming them “misinformation” and “misleading”.
“The vaccine is in use in a number of countries in Europe and outside it,” he said, giving the example of Australia, Ireland and South Korea, among others.
Dr Sultan added that there were very few side effects of the AstraZeneca vaccine and cases of clotting due to it were a rare occurrence.
Even then, to further reduce the chances of clotting because of the vaccine, it would be administered only to persons above the age of 40, the prime minister’s aide said.
He further stated that the number of cases of vaccine side effects had been “negligible” — just 4,329 against 3.8 million doses administered thus far in Pakistan.
And almost all of these side effects have been “mild and expected,” he said, adding that 90 per cent of the cases pertained to pain at the site of injection and fever.
He said six of the cases, which seemed serious, had been investigated and all were found to be coincidental and not caused by Covid-19 vaccines.
Dr Sultan had also shared this information on Twitter earlier in the day.
He urged people to get vaccinated and assured that the government would continue to procure Covid-19 vaccine doses so that the vaccination process continued unhampered.
“The more people are vaccinated, the higher will be the chances of life returning back to normal.”
The prime minister’s aide also appealed to citizens to follow coronavirus-related standard operating procedures and share information only from trusted and authentic sources, such as the National Command and Operation Centre’s (NCOC's) website, the health ministry’s website and verified social media accounts.
The NCOC on Tuesday said that as many as 964,227 people have been fully vaccinated in Pakistan. This includes the 131,047 people who were vaccinated in the last 24 hours. A total of 3,836,291 vaccine doses have been administered in the country so far, it added.
Pakistan has reported 882,928 coronavirus cases so far, of whom 19,752 patients have died due to complications arising from the virus.