Limited vaccine stocks slow Covid inoculation drive

Published June 20, 2021
People stage a  demonstration against shortage of coronavirus vaccine in Bajaur tribal district. — Dawn
People stage a demonstration against shortage of coronavirus vaccine in Bajaur tribal district. — Dawn

PESHAWAR: Though the coronavirus positivity rate continues to be on the decline in high-risk districts, vaccinations in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa are slowing down due to limited stocks, say officials.

According to them, the province has been reporting less than 200 Covid-19 cases daily for the last one week but the vaccines are unavailable in most of its 640 inoculation centres.

“We [health department] have informed the National Command and Operation Centre about vaccine shortages through chief secretary Dr Kazim Niaz, who is spearheading the province’s campaign against the virus and learned about the delivery of 300,000 vaccine doses by Sunday evening,” a senior health official told Dawn.

According to him, the NCOC is set to receive 1.5 million vaccine doses from China.

The other officials said the province used to vaccine 80,000 people against coronavirus until three days ago but the vaccine shortages had slowed down the campaign.

Officials insist NCOC promised delivery of 300,000 vaccine jabs today

They said on Friday, the province administered Covid-19 jabs to 39,000 people but shortages had badly affected vaccinations.

The officials feared that vaccination drive could come to a halt if the stocks didn’t arrive from the NCOC by Sunday.

“Vaccination centres remain closed on Sundays, so we need doses to resume vaccination from Monday. From the last three days, we have been receiving information regarding vaccine shortages from many districts. We’re ensuring the supply of vaccines from the centres, where the people are showing up in small numbers, to the ones, where they are needed the most,” an official said.

The official said the department would run out of vaccines if new supplies didn’t arrive by Sunday.

“We hope that the NCOC would dispatch the stuff to keep the vaccination exercise going,” he said.

The officials said things were not good at 50 mass vaccination centres, too, which were turning away the people without giving them jabs.

They also said mobile vehicles, which helped increase vaccination coverage, had stopped operation due to shortages.

Meanwhile, the province recorded five deaths from coronavirus and 154 new cases on Saturday.

The health department said the Covid-19 positivity rate continued to decline in the province’s high-risk districts.

According to a report of the department, three people died of the virus in Swat and one each in Peshawar and Swabi.

Deaths from the virus in the province have totalled 4,262 and cases 136,973 since its outbreak in March last year.

The report said 130,345 (94 per cent) of the infected cases, including 667 reported during the last 24 hours, had recovered from the infection, while the number of active cases came to 2,366.

Also, 9,222 Covid-19 tests were conducted during the last 24 hours.

The report said Peshawar recorded 38 new cases, Kohat 16, Orakzai 14, Mardan 11 and Abbottabad and Nowshera 10 each.

A report by the World Health Organisation said the coronavirus positivity rate reached four per cent in Peshawar, 2.7 per cent in Mardan, 1.8 per cent in Nowshera, 1.1 per cent in Swabi and less than one per cent in other high-risk districts.

The officials said the province’s vaccination coverage was around 1.5 million people due to the growing public awareness, especially in high-risk districts.

They said the people should continue observing standard operating procedures as the virus continued to be around and would remain so for years.

The officials said vaccination and precautionary measures would go simultaneously.

“The lockdowns and other measures can be eased after 70 per cent targeted population is vaccinated,” an official said.

He said the province had planned to inoculate 1.9 million people above 18 years of age by Dec but that required interrupted vaccine supplies.

Our correspondent from Bajaur adds: Scores of overseas Pakistani workers on Saturday demonstrated in the main intersection in Khar Bazaar against the shortage of Covid-19 vaccines.

The protesters, who showed up from different parts of the tribal district, also blocked the Bajaur-Peshawar Highway for around two hours.

They insisted that thousands of residents worked abroad but they’re struggling to return to work due to a delay in the mandatory vaccination against coronavirus.

The protesters said coronavirus vaccine was unavailable in the local inoculation centres.

“Thousands of people wanting to resume work abroad have got stuck here for several weeks due to a delay in vaccination,” said Hanfiullah Jan.

He said some workers were distressed due to the expiry of visas.

The protesters ended the road blockade after senior officials of the administration took them to the district health officer’s offices, where officials promised the establishment of at least one vaccination centre for oversees workers in the next two days.

  • Published in Dawn, June 20th, 2021*

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