Pakistan administered the 10 millionth Covid-19 vaccine dose on Wednesday, with Federal Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Minister Asad Umar announcing that the authorities aimed to inoculate 70 million people by the end of this year.
Speaking at a ceremony held to mark the deliverance of the 10 millionth dose, Umar said around seven million people had been administered vaccine doses in the country, but the country had a long way to go to meet the target of vaccinating 70 million people.
He said around 300,000 people were registering themselves for vaccination against Covid-19 on a daily basis and urged people to get inoculated so that the government may ease Covid-19 restrictions.
The minister added that precautionary measures taken during the third wave of the pandemic in the country had shown positive results and a visible reduction in Covid-19 positivity rate.
Pakistan's coronavirus positivity rate has been recorded as 2.54 per cent in the past 24 hours — the second day in a row that the positivity rate remained below 3pc. According to the health ministry, 43,900 tests were conducted during the last 24 hours after which 1,118 people tested positive.
Besides, 335,790 people were administered Covid-19 vaccines on Tuesday, according to the National Command and Control Centre (NCOC).
“The more [people] we vaccinate, the better we will be protected [against Covid-19],” Umar said, appealing to people to increasingly participate in the vaccination campaign.
Federal Information and Broadcasting Minister Fawad Chaudhry, who accompanied Umar on the occasion of the administration of the 10 millionth dose, tweeted: "We have reached the milestone of administering the vaccine to 10 million people [sic]."
He also lauded the government, particularly Prime Minister Imran Khan and the NCOC, for the way it battled the pandemic.
Earlier in the day, Umar had announced in a tweet that the number of Covid-19 vaccine doses administered in Pakistan would cross the 10 million mark today (Wednesday).
A day earlier, Umar had announced that a call centre was being established to contact people who had not been administered the second dose of the vaccine and convince them to complete their vaccination, as reports emerged that around 300,000 recipients of the first dose had never returned to receive their second jab of the Covid-19 vaccine.
Last week 120,000 doses of the locally manufactured PakVac vaccine — produced from the concentrate of Cansino vaccine — were launched in the country.
Announcing the production of PakVac, the government had said in a tweet that three million doses of the vaccine would be manufactured per month.
The PakVac vaccine has been developed by China's state-run pharmaceutical company Cansino and is being brought to Pakistan in a concentrated form, where it is packaged at the National Institute of Health (NIH) in Islamabad. Cansino was the first Chinese vaccine to have undergone clinical trial in Pakistan and was administered to around 18,000 people.
The company's interim efficacy results of a multi-country trial, which included Pakistan, showed the vaccine had a 65.7 per cent efficacy in preventing symptomatic coronavirus cases and a 90.98per cent success rate in stopping severe infections.
In the Pakistani subset, the efficacy of the vaccine at preventing symptomatic cases stood at 74.8per cent and 100per cent at preventing severe disease.
The launch of the first batch of PakVac doses coincided with the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan authorising the use of American Pfizer vaccine for emergency use.
The decision came in the wake of Pakistan receiving the first batch of Pfizer doses in May, when 100,000 doses were delivered under the World Health Organisation's global shared vaccine programme, Covax.
It was the second consignment of vaccines that Pakistan had received through the Covax facility. The country received the first shipment earlier this month, consisting of 1,238,400 doses of AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccines. Officials had said at the time that a further 1,236,000 doses would be received in the coming days.
Pakistan will be receiving a total of 17.2 million doses through Covax, according to an earlier Dawn report.
However, 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, Umar and Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Health Dr Faisal Sultan have announced on separate occasions.
According to Dr Sultan, "Around 11.8 vaccine doses have arrived in Pakistan so far. Approximately 76pc were purchased by the government."
In Pakistan, almost 2.2 million people had been fully immunised as of June 4 while 3.7 million had received one dose of the vaccine, he had said in a video statement last week.