Govt moves to meet vaccine shortfall

SAPM says fresh supplies would begin to reach the country from today


AGENCIES June 20, 2021
A health worker reacts while receiving a dose of the Sinopharm vaccine, donated by China, at a vaccination centre in Karachi on February 3, 2021. — Reuters/File

ISLAMABAD:

The government has placed emergency orders for supplies of the coronavirus vaccines to overcome a countrywide jabs shortage and the fresh supplies would begin to reach the country from Sunday (today), Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Health Dr Faisal Sultan on Saturday.

Dr Sultan, the de facto health minister of the country, told Anadolu Agency that Pakistan would receive around seven million vaccine doses over the next 10 days, mainly from China, starting with 1.5 million doses on Sunday (today).

The government’s ongoing vaccination drive faced a paucity of jabs in various parts of the country this week. According to reports, there were few vaccine centres were functioning in Punjab, while Sindh announced that there would be no vaccination on Sunday.

Dr Sultan did not elaborate on what caused the shortages, but assured that “the situation will be normalised from Monday [tomorrow] after the arrival” of the fresh supplies. “We still have 1 million doses in stock. But definitely, they are not enough to be distributed across the country,” he said.

Dr Sultan’s announcement came as authorities in Sindh shut all vaccine centres for Sunday (today), while, in Punjab out of 677 centres, only a few are functioning, according to media reports. Punjab, according to health officials, required immediate supplies of 2.8 million doses to resume vaccination.

Read Vaccination grinds to halt at most centres

Earlier in the day, Dr Sultan said in a tweet that the country had so far seen 12.9 million vaccine doses administered, with 226,000 inoculations on June 18, 266,000 on June 17, and 416,000 on June 16. He added that currently, the country has a stock of more than a million vaccine doses.

Dr Sultan further tweeted that the government anticipates nearly eight million vaccine doses to arrive in the country by the month’s end. “Anticipated June arrivals:- 20th [June] 1.55 million, 22nd 2.5 million, 23 to 30th 2-3 million + 400,000 Pakvac (Cansino),” he wrote on microblogging website.

The government stepped up the nationwide vaccine drive in the wake of a third wave of coronavirus pandemic, which begin in the month of March. The wave started ebbing in May. The pandemic data this week, showed that the deadly spread of the third wave was over.

On Saturday, the country witnessed the lowest single-day death toll in almost three months. According to the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC), the single-day tally again fell below 1,000 for a second time this week, at a positivity rate of 2.14%.

The NCOC, which serves as the nerve centre of the government’s unified effort against the pandemic, said its daily update of the disease that 27 people – 26 of them in hospitals, including 12 on ventilators, died during the past 24 hours.

The update further said that the national tally of active Covid-19 cases fell to 35,491, as 997 more people tested positive for the virus while 1,282 people recovered from the disease. There were 2,296 patients under treatment in critical care in various Covid-dedicated healthcare facilities.

The national caseload of the disease has risen to 947,218, including 889,787 people making full recovery, according to the NCOC. As of Saturday, the nationwide death toll stood at 21,940. So far, the authorities have conducted 14,072,605 corona tests.

Because of a big improvement in the pandemic situation, the Sindh government also announced the opening of primary schools from Monday (tomorrow). According to the announcement, shrines, amusement parks and indoor gymnasia would reopen from June 28.

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