The photo has been used for illustrative purpose.
Tariq Butt, Correspondent / Reuters
Pakistan will launch its COVID-19 vaccination drive next week, starting with front-line health workers, a government minister said on Wednesday.
"God willing, the vaccination of front-line health workers will start next week," Asad Umar, who oversees Pakistan's efforts to stem the coronavirus pandemic, said in a tweet.
China has pledged to donate 500,000 doses of coronavirus vaccine made by the Chinese firm SinoPharm. Two government sources said the first batch would be flown in on Saturday.
According to a survey, at least 78 per cent of the population of Pakistan’s is taking preventative measures against COVID-19 and seems to be concerned about its health.
Conducted by Gallup Pakistan, more than 1,000 took part in the survey. It says the majority of the masses (78%) are using a mask to save themselves from the novel coronavirus.
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The survey was conducted between Dec.24, 2020, and Jan.15, 2021. When survey recipients were asked about what preventative measures they are taking against COVID-19, 78% said that they are using a mask.
Fifty-one per cent said that they wash their hands frequently. Some 47% of the respondents indicated that they use hand sanitiser to keep themselves safe from the virus, while 27% of people said they used gloves.
Pakistan reported 1,563 new coronavirus infections and 74 deaths in the latest 24-hour period, taking the total number of cases to more than 537,477, with 11,450 deaths.
Pakistan has so far approved two vaccines for emergency use, one made by China National Pharmaceutical Group (SinoPharm) and the other by AstraZeneca.
A general view of the Khaliq Dina Hall, which has been converted to be used as a vaccination centre, in Karachi. Reuters
Russia's Sputnik V vaccine is also likely to get similar approval, officials say, adding that the authorisations will be reviewed quarterly with regard to safety, efficacy and quality.
Health Minister Faisal Sultan has said Pakistan could get "in the range of tens of millions" of vaccine doses under an agreement with China's Cansino Biologics Inc.
Cansino's Ad5-nCoV vaccine candidate is nearing completion of Phase III clinical trials in Pakistan, and preliminary results may be available by mid-February, Sultan said.
The South Asian nation of 220 million people also expects China to donate a further million vaccine doses.
Dr Ghazna Khalid, a member of the government task force on COVID-19, said Pakistan would procure vaccines from various markets.
"There's going to be an accumulation of vaccines, a consortium available, there’s going to be Chinese vaccines, there's going to be AstraZeneca," she said. "We are the fifth biggest country in the world, and it's going to be very difficult to immunise."
According to the NCOC data, Pakistan will receive 5.6m doses by the end of March, with 2.8m doses of Gavi/Covax expected in the first week of next month and another 2.8m doses by the second week. In all, 17.1m doses will reach Pakistan by the end of June.
"As vaccine supply continues to improve and vaccination capacity gets enhanced in all federating units, we continue to expand the categories of those who are eligible to get vaccinated," Umar said on Twitter.
Meanwhile, after the UK variant made inroads into various cities of the country, Pakistan has reported its first confirmed patient carrying the Indian strain.
Asad Umar warned that countries not accepting vaccination certificates of Chinese vaccines would turn out to be a problem for the entire world if a decision was not taken on the issue at the global level.
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