Pakistani PM gets inoculated with Chinese vaccine
by Shafqat Ali
Islamabad, March 19 (Gwadar Pro) - Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday afternoon got vaccinated with Chinese vaccine Sinopharm against the deadly coronavirus.
PM Khan took a jab of the Chinese-made vaccine a day after Pakistan received half a million doses of the coronavirus vaccines as a donation from China, said an official statement.
This was the second consignment of the Sinopharm vaccine, which was received by Pakistan's health officials in Rawalpindi. Earlier President Arif Alvi and his wife were vaccinated with the same vaccine.
“China has always supported Pakistan during difficult times,” Special Assistant to the Prime Minister (SAPM) on Health, Dr Faisal Sultan said while receiving the vaccine doses.
In the first week of February, China had sent 100,000 doses of Sinopharm to Pakistan, helping it kick-start its first round of vaccination drive against the coronavirus. Pakistan has been struggling to contain the spread of the virus with a toll of nearly 612,315 cases and 13,656 deaths.
On Wednesday, Pakistan has received a Chinese donation of 500,000 doses of Sinopharm vaccine, bringing the country’s total supply to one million shots.
The country of 220 million people launched COVID-19 vaccinations for the public on March 10, starting with older people. Health workers started receiving shots in early February.
“These 500,000 doses will ensure smooth continuation of our vaccine drive, currently under way for senior citizens,” Dr Faisal Sultan said.
Sinopharm, the only vaccine currently available in the country, requires two doses. Vaccination uptake has been slow in Pakistan, where authorities have faced a significant amount of vaccine hesitancy among the general public and healthcare workers.
The percentage of COVID-19 tests coming back positive across the country has touched 6.26 percent and crossed 11 percent in Punjab, the largest province.
Pakistan has recorded 615,810 cases of the coronavirus and 13,717 deaths, with 3,495 cases and 61 deaths reported in the last 24 hours, according to government data on Thursday.
This daily case rise was the highest Pakistan has seen in more than three months, prompting authorities to tighten restrictions on public gatherings and warn of a third wave of the virus.
Pakistan has not secured any vaccine from drug manufacturers and is depending on the GAVI/WHO COVAX initiative for poorer nations and donations. The country is expecting to get GAVI’s first batch of 2.8 million doses of AstraZeneca sometime later this month.
Besides Sinopharm and AstraZeneca, Pakistan has approved Russia’s Sputnik and China’s CanSino Biologics Inc’s (CanSinoBIO) vaccines for emergency use.
CanSinoBIO has released interim efficacy results from a multi-country trial, which included Pakistan, showing 65.7 percent efficacy in preventing symptomatic coronavirus cases and a 90.98 percent success rate in stopping severe infections.
In the Pakistani subset, the efficacy of the CanSinoBIO vaccine at preventing symptomatic cases was 74.8 percent and 100 percent at preventing severe disease.