The federal government has announced free coronavirus vaccine for all Pakistanis, saying the government will inoculate health workers and elderly people in the first phase.
Dr Faisal Sultan, prime Minister’s aide on health, said that the government is eyeing procurement of at least 20 million vaccine doses in the first stage; however, only 1 million doses will be procured by March this year.
He further said that the registration process for the vaccination is underway and the government would soon begin the drive once the vaccine doses arrive from China.
Reports say China will provide 0.5 million vaccines by the end of this month free of cost, while more vaccines from China will arrive in Islamabad next month.
Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi also talked about the procurement from the United Kingdom. He said the government was in talks with the UK to procure the vaccine developed by the British pharmaceutical company.
So far, three firms, British firm Oxford-AstraZeneca, Chinese firm Sinopharm and CanSino Biologics, have asked Pakistan to buy their vaccine. Oxford-AstraZeneca and Sinopharm are already registered with Pakistan whereas CanSino is conducting phase-III trials in the country.
Recently, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) had expressed serious concerns over the government’s decision to ask provinces and the private sector to import the coronavirus vaccine.
As per the details, with the Cabinet Committee on Procurement of COVID-19 Vaccine briefing Prime Minister Imran Khan on efforts being made to engage more pharmaceutical companies for procurement, HRCP had said that the government’s decision in this regard was not the right step.
It may be noted that amid reports of a delay in the procurement of vaccine, some journalists claimed that the government was in no hurry to order the coronavirus vaccine as most of the senior government members had already been vaccinated against the deadly disease.