Federal Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Minister Asad Umar said on Thursday that citizens intending to go for Haj this year, those working abroad on work visas issued by countries that did not recognise vaccination certificates of Chinese vaccines and students planning to go to educational institutions in such countries within a month would be given priority for the administration of Pfizer — an American Covid-19 vaccine brand.
Umar, who was speaking to the media in Islamabad, said in reply to a question that Pakistan had received a limited quantity of Pfizer this month and therefore, preference for its administration had to be given to some segments.
However, he added, Pakistan would receive more doses of Pfizer in the future.
The minister further warned that countries not accepting vaccination certificates of Chinese vaccines would turn out to be a problem for the entire world if a decision was not taken on the issue at the global level.
“If every country makes it mandatory for visitors to be inoculated by their choice of vaccine [brands], the entire world would suffer,” he said, adding that Chinese Covid-19 vaccines were the most exported brands in the world at present.
Earlier, The Pakistan Medical Association (PMA) had urged the World Health Organisation (WHO) to play its role in getting all vaccines accepted by countries which made it mandatory for visitors to be inoculated by only certain brands.
In a written letter to WHO Director General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus in May, PMA Secretary General Dr Qaisar Sajjad had requested the world health body to help resolve the vaccination issue of people who need to travel abroad because the relevant authorities of some countries had approved vaccines of only certain companies.
He had warned that this policy would have a devastating effect on international travel and trade.
Umar also spoke about the progress of vaccination against Covid-19 in Pakistan on Thursday.
He said the vaccination campaign against Covid-19 would be successful since the government had taken the private sector and business community onboard and also planned to partner with non-governmental organisations to accelerate the campaign and make t more effective.
He told reporters that there were around 1,700 Covid-19 vaccination centres in Pakistan at present, and the government planned to increase the number to 4,000.
Umar added that teachers and school staff were being vaccinated at a rapid pace in the country, which would contribute to the success of the campaign.
The minister also lauded the Islamabad district health officer and other relevant city authorities, saying that a review during a National Command and Operation Centre meeting had revealed that the capital fared better than other cities in terms of vaccination and registration for vaccination.
The ratio of registrations for vaccination to the city’s population is the highest in Islamabad, and so is the number of inoculated persons, the minister said.
However, he added that the city authorities needed to further pace up vaccination and expressed hope that vaccination would also be sped up in other cities of Pakistan.
The minister also tweeted about the government investing in the acceleration of the vaccination drive.
A day earlier, the NCOC had announced a campaign to vaccinate 70 million people in the country by the end of current year.
The campaign is aimed at reducing adverse effects of the viral disease to provide substantial flexibility to the business fraternity, enabling them to continue their businesses with minimum restrictions.