• 85 more die in a day
• Nims registration facility extended to citizens who received jabs abroad
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has received three million doses of coronavirus vaccine, Pfizer, donated by the United States under Covax facility, on a day when 85 more deaths and as many as 4,553 new cases of Covid-19 were reported from across the country.
With national positivity rate of coronavirus being at 7.4 per cent, the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) on Thursday urged the masses to get fully vaccinated so that herd immunity can be attained as the country has already administered over 50 million doses of vaccine. “For best protection against Covid, complete vaccination is a must. Get your second dose after 28 days (even if you don’t get message, just walk in to any nearest CVC and get your second dose),” said the NCOC in a tweet.
For the Pakistanis who received shots from abroad, a facility was launched on Thursday allowing them to get their immunisation records registered in National Immunization Management System (Nims).
In the past seven months, 14 million people in Pakistan have been fully vaccinated, and 38 million have received a first dose of vaccine against the coronavirus. The government-led campaign relies on vaccines procured via Covax and through bilateral agreements.
The latest three million doses of Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine, donated by the US government, were delivered by the Covax facility that pledged to provide free vaccine to 20pc population of Pakistan.
According to a statement issued by Unicef, over the past four months Covax has delivered more than 17 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine to Pakistan. This includes 3 million doses of Pfizer and 5.5 million doses of Moderna donated by the US under Covax’s dose-sharing mechanism; 6.1 million doses of Sinopharm, 2.4 million doses of AstraZeneca and 100,160 doses of Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine procured by Covax. More doses are expected to arrive in the coming weeks.
All doses will support the Government of Pakistan’s national vaccination campaign. The NCOC has recently announced that children above the age of 17 would be eligible for vaccination from September 1st, as well as anyone above 12 who is immunocompromised.
More than one million cases of Covid-19 have been reported in the country so far and more than 25,000 people have succumbed to the virus.
“Covid-19 vaccines are effective and safe. The arrival of additional Covax vaccine comes at a crucial time when Pakistan is facing a surge in Covid-19 infections with approximately reporting 4,000 cases per day. WHO appreciates the Government of the United States for their continued and generous support to Pakistan,” said WHO Representative in Pakistan Dr Palitha Mahipala.
“WHO is committed to ensuring equitable vaccine allocation leaving no one behind and fully support the Government of Pakistan’s efforts to increase availability and safe administration of vaccines to cover 70 million people by the end of this year. WHO urges people to maintain Covid-19 protective measures while the national vaccination campaign continues to be rolled out and expanded,” he said.
“Unicef thanks the Government of United States for its donation of vaccines to Pakistan through the Covax facility. We look forward to more vaccines becoming available in the country as other Covax partners share their doses of vaccines and help secure full funding for the global initiative and more vaccines. Worldwide solidarity is the only way to ensure equitable vaccine access for every person on Earth, so they can have access to the same protection against Covid-19, no matter where they live,” said Aida Girma, Unicef representative in Pakistan.
Drug price hike
In the meantime, representative body of the country’s medical fraternity, Pakistan Medical Association (PMA), has shown concern over the price hike of medicines.
“We categorical reject this price hike. Unfortunately this is the 11th time that the present government has increased the drug prices during its three years tenure. It is very disturbing that instead of providing any relief to the masses, government has increased medicine prices which was already out of reach of the poor people. The painful aspect of this development is that prices of essential medicine and life-saving drugs have also been increased. This is against the rights of the people. The life-saving drugs should always be available at low prices. People are already spending 50 to 60pc of their income on medicine and treatment. It is very well known fact that inflation has already caused an alarming increase in food prices and the prices of other commodities of daily use. In such conditions when there is scarcity of health facilities at public hospitals, this increment of medicine prices will add to the misery of the people,” it stated.
PMA Secretary General Dr Qaisar Sajjad said 50pc people of the country lived below the poverty line and visited public hospitals for their medical treatment.
“The conditions of the public hospitals are very poor. It is the responsibility of the Government to improve these facilities. Government should provide free medicine to all the patients coming to the government-run hospitals. PMA suggests that government should ponder some other ways to minimize the effect of increasing cost of medicines because of devaluation of Pakistani currency. It could be done by supporting pharmaceutical companies through reducing taxes and cut in import duty of the raw material for drugs manufacturing and packaging. Vaccines and raw material for medicine should be produced in the country. Fake, counterfeit drugs and medicine smuggling should be eliminated on a priority basis,” he said.
While referring to the federal cabinet decision of allowing drug price hike, the PMA demanded that the federal government review its decision and withdraw the notification of further increase in drug prices.
Published in Dawn, August 27th, 2021