The rollout of vaccines - one of 12 key milestones in the coronavirus global crisis. PHOTO: AFP

1m Covid doses expected by March: SAPM

Dr Sultan says talks in an advanced stage with two companies

Our Correspondent January 20, 2021

Special Assistant to the Prime Minister (SAPM) on Health Dr Faisal Sultan on Wednesday hoped that the government would procure at least one million doses of the Covid-19 jabs by March, maintaining that it aimed to vaccinate 70% of the country’s population against the deadly contagion. 

Addressing a news conference in the federal capital, the SAPM said talks with two companies – the Sinopharm and CanSino – were in an advanced stage for the procurement of Covid-19 vaccines.

“Sinopharm's vaccine is the one you have heard about being used in several countries including the UAE. It has an efficacy of 80-85%,” he said.

"The phase 3 trials of CanSino's vaccine are being conducted in Pakistan and they are near completion. Their results will come soon," he added.

Earlier, the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (Drap) had approved China's Sinopharm and the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine for emergency use.

Deliberating on the CanSino trials, the PM’s aide observed that 17,500 people had participated in them.

He observed that three out of five centres where the trials were conducted had completed the process whereas two centres were in the final stage of the trial.

“The statistical analysis of the [Can Sino] vaccine has started and we expect the results at the beginning of February. Pakistan is entitled to 20 million doses on the condition that the vaccine is effective,” he added.

Meanwhile, through the World Health Organisation's COVAX Facility, Pakistan is expected to get free vaccines for 20% of the country's population.

COVAX is co-led by Gavi – the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) and World Health Organisation WHO. Its aim is to accelerate the development and manufacture of Covid-19 vaccines and to guarantee fair and equitable access for every country in the world.

“To ensure that Pakistan can avail the doses through COVAX, there is a need for government-level talks and our officials have been in contact with the Chinese officials,” the Dr Sultan observed.

"Today, we also met UK's ambassador and I assure you that we will announce a positive outcome soon," he added.

The PM’s aide maintained that the government would be able to procure one million doses of the vaccines in the first quarter of the current year.

Explaining the government's targets, Dr Sultan said the country had a population of 220 million people out of which around 120 million were under the age of 18.

"The vaccine has been approved only for those above 18 years old. We think we can achieve immunity if we provide the vaccine to 70% of our population."

Meanwhile, the national tally of total active Covid-19 cases in the country on Wednesday reached 35,163 with 1,772 more people tested positive and 2,046 people recovered from the disease during the last 24 hours.

Out of 48 coronavirus patients, 44 were under treatment in hospital and four in their homes or quarantine passed away on Tuesday, according to the latest update issued by the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC).

During the last 24 hours most of the deaths occurred in Sindh followed by Punjab. It added that out of the total 48 deaths during last 24 hours, 30 patients died on ventilators.

The maximum ventilators were occupied in four major areas including Multan 49%, Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) 32%, Peshawar 29% and Lahore 38%.

The maximum oxygen beds were also occupied in four major areas including Peshawar 47%, Multan 38%, Karachi 40% and Rawalpindi 26%.

Around 318 ventilators were occupied elsewhere in the country while no Covid-19 affected person was on ventilator in Gilgit-Baltistan, Azad Jammu and Kashmir and Balochistan.

Around 478,517 people have recovered from the disease so far across the country making it a significant count with over 90% recovery ratio of the affected patients.

With input from APP


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