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Is government solely relying on gifts and donations for COVID-19 vaccines?

Pakistan recorded over 4,400 new infections in the last 24 hours, taking the total tally to 804,939 on Tuesday. But the vaccination drive in the country remains very slow. Is Pakistan following a charity-based model?

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Special Assistant to the Prime Minister (SAPM) on Health Dr Faisal Sultan assured the nation on Tuesday that the government was not solely relying on gifts and donations for coronavirus vaccines and had a purchase plan in place.

Speaking to the media from the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC), Dr Sultan said misinformation was circulating regarding the government’s plan regarding purchase of vaccines.

He said that the government has signed contracts with three vaccine companies to secure supplies of the COVID-19 vaccination shots. “To say that the government is waiting to receive vaccines as gifts is incorrect,” said Dr Sultan.

The SAPM explained that there was a delay in the vaccine’s arrival to the country because of supply shortages across the world. “Many countries were not able to get vaccines despite advance booking,” explained Dr Sultan, giving examples of Canada and Australia.

He added that the government was also yet to receive vaccines from global alliance COVAX due to the supply chain issues.

Dr Sultan explained that the government had already purchased three million doses of the available vaccines till March 30. He also shared that 1,200 vaccination centres have been established all over Pakistan and 2 million people have been inoculated so far.

Dr Sultan warns of lockdown

Like other government officials who have spoken on the matter recently, the SAPM on health once again warned that a lockdown could be imposed in different cities if the coronavirus situation does not improve.

The SAPM said that the NCOC reviews the coronavirus situation daily and receives an update on the situation of the health system in various cities. He added that the healthcare system’s capacity was increasing daily.

Regarding oxygen supply, the de facto health minister of the country said that a committee of the NCOC is monitoring oxygen distribution and the plants producing the vital gas. He added that the government can also import oxygen from various countries if need be.

He urged the people to wear masks and observe social distancing and appealed to the public to observe Eid with simplicity this year.

Pakistan records 10.20% positivity rate

The SAPM’s appeal comes as Pakistan battles a severe third wave of COVID-19. Pakistan recorded over 4,400 new infections in the last 24 hours, taking the total tally to 804,939 on Tuesday.

According to the government’s database for tracking the spread of coronavirus, Pakistan conducted 43,981 COVID-19 tests out of which 4,487 returned positive.

With 142 new fatalities, the total coronavirus death toll in Pakistan has reached 17,329. The highest death toll in the last 24 hours was reported in Punjab, which saw 107 new deaths.

The country’s average positivity rate has risen to 10.2% with 87,794 active cases, while the number of recoveries nationwide has reached 699,816 so far.

Read more: COVID-19: Is Pakistan going to face oxygen supply crisis?

In order to mitigate losses incurred from intensifying the third wave of coronavirus, the government has also placed a number of restrictions restricting social activity and limiting public mobility.

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