• PM aide says Pakistan ranks among top 30 nations to have given maximum doses
• 11 million more vaccines to arrive this month

ISLAMABAD: As Pakistan secured contracts of 11 million doses for June, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Health Dr Faisal Sultan on Saturday announced that the third wave of the Covid-19 pandemic in the country had gone down steadily.

While rubbishing news attributed to Nobel laureate Luc Mon­t­a­gnier that every person who has been vaccinated will die within two years, the National Command and Opera­tion Centre (NCOC) urged citizens to go ahead with their vaccinations to help control the spread of the deadly virus.

On the other hand, out of the 11 million doses of Sinopharm, Sinovac and Cansino vaccines which Pakistan is set to receive in the current month (June), one million doses of Sinopharm reached Islamabad on a special PIA flight on Saturday.

During a weekly briefing after the NCOC meeting, Dr Sultan claimed that the third wave was subsiding as up to 55,000 tests per day were conducted during the week and the average national positivity ratio remained less than 4pc.

“This shows that the government’s lockdown and enforcement of standard operating procedures (SOPs), along with greater vaccine uptake and administration, has had an impact on the infection rate. Our fellow countrymen in Sindh, however, are under pressure as the positivity ratio in the province is hovering between 6pc and 7pc,” he said.

The special assistant expressed his gratitude to all citizens for their cooperation but said the fight against Covid-19 was not over yet.

He said the NCOC was regularly monitoring compliance across all sectors in the federating units and had alerted industries that compliance was not up to the mark as the overall observance of SOPs stood at 46pc.

“As of now, we have not vaccinated enough people to solely rely on vaccination to slow down the spread of the disease, therefore, observance of SOPs is crucial,” he added.

Sharing details of the vaccination process, Dr Sultan said 2.2 million people had been fully inoculated and almost 3.7 million had received at least one dose as of June 4.

He said around eight million doses were given to people as a result of which Pakistan was being counted among the top 30 countries in the world in terms of doses administered.

“As 300,000 to 400,000 doses are being administered daily, we have given more vaccines than countries like Australia, Switzerland, Portugal and Belgium. Registration of people aged 18 years and above opened on May 27 and the scheduled vaccine began on June 3,” Dr Sultan said, adding that walk-in vaccination was also started for teachers and school staff aged over 18 years on May 29.

“If you are a teacher of any age, you can take your employment letter and go to any vaccination centre,” he said.

As a large number of people want to be vaccinated with Pfizer, Dr Sultan said only 100,000 doses of the American vaccine were available which would be given to those travelling abroad for Haj, work or education in countries that accepted only Pfizer. He said overall 11.8 million doses had arrived in Pakistan, out of which 76pc were purchased by the government.

Talking about the fake news being spread about the vaccine, the special assistant said the NCOC was closely monitoring discussions on Covid-19.

“We also regularly review complaints made on 1166 helpline. Based on this information, I would like to address some concerns of the public and misinformation being spread maliciously. News is being circulated about Nobel Prize winner Luc Montagnier’s claims about the coronavirus vaccines. This is completely false. There is no evidence that he said this, and the claim has been discredited by multiple fact-checking organisations,” Dr Sultan said.

The PM’s aide further said all WHO approved vaccines went through rigorous trial and testing phases before being administered to the public to minimise health risks.

“There is no published scientific research that suggests people will die within two years of receiving the vaccine,” he added.

Dr Sultan also said the video being circulating on social media about a bulb lighting up on making contact with a vaccinated person’s arm was also fake.

Meanwhile, the NCOC data reported 1,923 cases and 84 deaths in a single day. The number of active cases was 48,937 as of June 5.

The forum reviewed opening of the education sector and decided that education institutions in districts having low disease prevalence will be reopened with effect from June 7 in a staggered manner.

Meanwhile, the United States, through the US Agency for International Development (USAID), mobilised an airlift of critical health supplies to Pakistan to help save lives, stop the spread of Covid-19 and meet urgent health needs of the country.

“Today, the United States continues our proud partnership with the Government of Pakistan in our fight against the Covid-19 pandemic,” said US embassy’s Chargé d’ Affaires Lesslie Viguerie.

“Throughout this struggle, we have worked together to provide resources and relief to those suffering and to help those on the frontlines of this pandemic. Pakistan is not alone in its fight against the coronavirus,” he said.

The US government has allocated more than $40 million to Pakistan for Covid-19 response assistance, including a donation of 200 ventilators to care for coronavirus patients.

Published in Dawn, June 6th, 2021

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