Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Health Dr Faisal Sultan said on Saturday that Pakistan is included among the world's top 30 countries in terms of Covid-19 vaccines administered.
In a video statement, the PM's aide said that almost eight million vaccine doses have been administered in Pakistan as of June 4. "We have administered more vaccine doses than 165 countries. We have administered more vaccine doses than countries such as Australia, Switzerland, Portugal and Belgium."
Almost 2.2 million people have been fully immunised as of June 4 while 3.7 million have received one dose of the vaccine, he said.
Sultan said that the third wave of the pandemic was slowly receding, adding that the positivity rate was also falling steadily. "The average [positivity rate] stands at less than four per cent.
"This is proof that the government’s lockdown and enforcement of SOPs, along with greater vaccine uptake and administration, has had an impact on the spread of the disease."
However, Sindh was currently under pressure, he said. "As we expected, the third wave in Sindh began a bit later than it did in the rest of the federating units. The positivity ratio in Sindh has hovered between six and seven per cent."
'Can't rely solely on vaccination'
Commenting on the need to continue following precautionary measures, Sultan said: "We are grateful to all citizens for their cooperation but the fight against Covid is not over yet. We are regularly monitoring compliance across all sectors in all federating units."
He said that the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) was "deeply concerned" and had alerted all industries that compliance was not up to the mark.
"National compliance of SOPs stands at 46pc. This is the average across all provinces and sectors," he said. Breaking it down by sector, he said compliance stood at 40pc for transport, 40.28pc for businesses, 38pc for industries, 41pc at mosques and imambargahs, 50pc at airports, bus stands and railway stations, 42pc at public places and 70pc at hospitals.
"As of now, we have not vaccinated enough people for us to rely solely on vaccination to slow down the spread of the disease. Compliance with SOPs continues to be crucial to mitigate the spread of the virus across all regions," he emphasised.
Commenting on the 100,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine that arrived in the country last week, he said the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP) had granted emergency use approval.
The NCOC has decided that for now — because Pakistan had a limited number of doses — the Pfizer vaccine will be administered to those traveling abroad for Haj or work/education in countries where other vaccines are not accepted and it is compulsory for travellers to show a vaccination certificate upon entry, he said.
He added that one million Sinopharm doses purchased by the government had also arrived. "Around 11.8 vaccine doses have arrived in Pakistan so far. Approximately 76pc were purchased by the government."
Commenting on the World Health Organisation's (WHO) emergency use authorisation of the Sinovac vaccine, he said: "Pakistan has been administering Sinovac since May 9 and we had full faith in the safety and efficacy of the vaccine. The WHO’s approval only confirms our evaluation and it will encourage more countries to approve the vaccine."
The PM's aide also took the opportunity to comments on public concerns and misinformation being spread about Covid vaccines.
"News is circulating about Nobel Prize winner Luc Montagnier’s claims about the vaccines. This is completely false. There is no evidence that he said this, and the claim has been discredited by multiple fact-checking organisations.
"All WHO approved vaccines went through rigorous trial and testing phases before being administered to the general public to minimise health risks.
"There is no published scientific research that suggests that people will die within two years of receiving the vaccine."
He also referred to a video circulating on social media that showed a light bulb illuminating upon making contact with a vaccinated person's arm.
"This video has also been declared fake news. Vaccinated arms do not generate electricity and can't light up a bulb. There is no scientific evidence suggesting this happens, and millions of other people that were inoculated have not experienced any such side effect.
"Several fact-checking platforms produced videos debunking this claim," he said.