A special consignment of 1.55 million doses of anti-Covid vaccine Sinovac arrived at the Islamabad airport through a special PIA flight on Sunday – part of the emergency orders the federal government had placed to overcome a countrywide shortage of jabs.
“China as a time-tested friend of Pakistan has taken special measures to ensure uninterrupted supply of vaccines to Pakistan,” the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) announced in a statement.
The principal body governing the policies and implementation of the national Covid-19 efforts in the country added that another consignment of two to three million doses of Chinese vaccine would reach the country this week.
“Measures are in place to transport these vaccines to all federating units according to their requirement,” the statement read.
According to a PIA spokesperson, flight number PK-6852 reached Islamabad on Sunday morning with the jabs. He added that the airline would bring two million more doses to the country on June 22.
Later, after unloading half of the doses in Islamabad, the plane flew to Karachi airport in the afternoon, carrying over 700,000 doses, which were handed over to the Sindh government.
Amid the shortage of jabs in the country, vaccination centers in major cities are either suspending vaccination or slowing down the process.
The National Institute of Health (NIH) in Islamabad that produced the PakVac vaccine under the supervision of Chinese experts "failed" to provide the promised three million doses in June.
Authorities in Sindh have shut all vaccine centres for Sunday, whereas only a few centres were functioning in Punjab due to the ongoing jabs shortage.
Addressing a news conference in Karachi the other day, Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah announced that there would be no vaccination on Sunday because of the vaccine paucity.
Planning and Development Minister Asad Umar, who heads the NCOC, wrote on Twitter that a "record" 2.3 million vaccine doses were administered in the last week.
He added that around 332,877 vaccines on average were administered daily in the last week. "With 1.5 million vaccines arriving today and another almost five million in next 10 days, inshallah next week will be a new record. Well done Pakistan.”
The country reported 1,050 cases of coronavirus on Sunday, with 37 people losing their lives in the past 24 hours as the positivity ratio stood at 2.55%.
According the NCOC data, the new infections had reached 33,972. So far, the NCOC added, 892,319 people had recovered from the disease across Pakistan. The overall number of cases reported in the country has reached 948,268 while the death toll has hit 21,977.
A day earlier, Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Health Dr Faisal Sultan had said the government had placed emergency orders for supplies of the coronavirus vaccines and the fresh supplies would begin to reach the country from Sunday.
Dr Sultan, the de facto health minister of the country, added that Pakistan would receive around seven million vaccine doses over the next 10 days, mainly from China.
“The situation will be normalised from Monday after the arrival of the fresh supplies," Dr Faisal noted. "We still have 1 million doses in stock. But definitely, they are not enough to be distributed across the country," he went on to say.
Though Dr Faisal did not elaborate on what caused the shortages, a senior health official, wishing not to be named as he was not allowed to speak on record, blamed a mix of bureaucratic labyrinths and delay in supplies of locally produced single-dose CanSino vaccines.
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