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Thursday, May 23, 2024

Pakistan to get half a million Covid-19 vaccine doses as a gift from China

Beijing will first provide 0.5M doses, 1.1M more in February, says foreign minister

China will provide half a million doses of its Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine as a gift to Pakistan by the end of this month, Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said on Thursday.

“Always great to speak to my friend, His Excellency FM Wang Yi… Pakistan greatly appreciates the 500,000 doses of the vaccine gifted by China,” he said in a tweet.

Qureshi added that China has played an instrumental role in Pakistan’s fight against COVID-19 with “technical assistance and medical expertise.”

In a separate statement, the foreign minister said his Chinese counterpart has assured that another 1.1 million doses will arrive in Pakistan in February.

The country’s drug regulatory authority approved on Monday the Chinese vaccine for emergency use, two days after the vaccine developed by Oxford-AstraZeneca received a similar authorization.

Pakistan has been engaging with a number of vaccine makers, according to adviser of health Faisal Sultan. The federal government has also allowed the private sector and the provinces to procure vaccines on their own, subject to relevant approvals.

Read more: Pakistan grants permission to use British COVID-19 vaccine for ‘urgent-use’, sources

Pakistan has so far reported 527,146 COVID-19 cases and 11,157 related deaths.

Pakistan approved China’s Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine

Pakistan’s drug regulator has approved China’s Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use in the country, paving the way for planned procurement of over a million doses next month.

A spokesman for the health ministry, in a statement, said the drug regulatory authority has so far approved two coronavirus vaccines, including Sinopharm for emergency use.

The development follows Islamabad’s approval of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine for emergency use last week.

Read more: Pakistan okays emergency use of China’s Sinopharm jab

Dr. Faisal Sultan, special assistant to the prime minister on health, had told Anadolu Agency earlier this month Pakistan is expecting the first installment of 1.1 million doses from China’s Sinopharm by the first week of February.

However, he recently acknowledged that the Health Ministry has not placed an order for the vaccine.

Sultan, who effectively acts as the health minister, dispelled the impression that the government has delayed procurement, saying an order for the Sinopharm vaccine will be placed within the next few days.

Federal Minister for Planning Asad Umar, who heads the country’s anti-virus strategy, told reporters on Sunday that the government has allowed the private sector and the provinces to procure vaccines at their own after permission from the drug regulatory authority.

Read more: Pakistan might get Covid-19 vaccine early next year: Dr. Faisal Sultan

Pakistan, which has so far recorded 521,221coronavirus cases and 10,997 deaths, wants to launch a nationwide immunization drive by the second quarter of 2021, according to the officials.

Anadolu with additional input by GVS News Desk