Politics over vaccines will trigger anarchy: Asad Umar

Published August 6, 2021
In this file photo, Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Minister Asasd Umar gestures during a news conference in Islamabad. — Reuters/File
In this file photo, Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Minister Asasd Umar gestures during a news conference in Islamabad. — Reuters/File

ISLAMABAD: Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar on Thursday warned that the world was moving towards global anarchy as every country wanted to administer vaccine of its choice.

Speaking at the first International Conference on Covid-19 Vaccination, the minister said that politics over vaccines would lead to anarchy.

The online conference, hosted by Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, concluded on Thursday evening. It was attended by the foreign ministers and speakers of two dozen countries as well as representatives from the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Asad Umar, while talking to Dawn, said he told the participants that it was strange that all countries were taking decisions as per their choice which should not be done. “Countries have every right to take a decision on vaccination of their masses but they should not dictate international travellers,” he added.

Says all WHO-approved vaccines should be accepted

He said all the vaccines, approved by the WHO, should be accepted across the globe so that no one could suffer.

On the other hand, overseas Pakistanis continue to suffer as those who have already been administered Chinese or Russian vaccines cannot avail the relief recently announced by Saudi Arabia as they are declared vaccinated in the system and unable to get a booster dose.

It is worth mentioning that Saudi Arabia has allowed the entry of fully vaccinated travellers if they get booster dose of a recognised vaccine. So the people who have been vaccinated with Sinopharm or Sinovac will have to get a booster shot of either Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccines to enter Saudi Arabia.

The Ministry of National Health Services appears to be reluctant to administer booster doses to the people intending to go abroad because the WHO has not advised vaccine mix as yet.

A senior official of the ministry said Saudi Arabia should announce a policy for Pakistanis and vaccinate them at the point of entry just like it administers polio vaccine at airports. “Overseas Pakistanis are already vaccinated so Saudi Arabia can charge the cost of one dose at airport and inoculate them. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs may take up the issue with Saudi Arabia, but we cannot speak about it as the kingdom is very sensitive about statements from Pakistan,” the official said on condition of anonymity.

“WHO still doesn’t advise vaccine mix. For those previously unvaccinated, we are facilitating the Western Vaccine Administration. Booster will only be considered in Pakistan once enough data is available on safety,” he said.

Meanwhile, data released by the National Command and Operation Centre showed that 5,661 Covid-19 cases and 60 deaths were reported on Thursday, with 9.06 per cent positivity rate. Earlier, 5,908 cases were reported on April 23.

According to the data, 4,275 patients were admitted to hospitals across the country.

Similarly, 1,158,744 doses of Covid-19 vaccine were administered on Thursday, taking the tally to 34,204,053.

Published in Dawn, August 6th, 2021

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