Islamabad – Staff Reporter:
Special Assistant to Prime Minister on National Health Services, Regulations, and Coordination Dr Faisal Sultan Monday announced that Pakistan will become largely self-sufficient in meeting its COVID-19 vaccine needs as it will begin producing the single-dose CanSino Bio vaccine locally.
In a media briefing, he said that the government’s goal is to vaccinate 70 million people by the end of this year. “The population eligible for getting vaccinated in Pakistan is 100 million.”
Pakistan has signed deals for the procurement of 30 million coronavirus vaccines in the first half of 2021, Sultan said.
These are the people above the age of 18. According to Sultan, people below this age can’t get vaccinated. Coronavirus vaccination in the country began on January 1, 2021 but the process to procure the vaccines began last year.
In June 2020, the Economic Coordination Committee approved $150 million for the vaccines. “This was back when there were no vaccines introduced or approved,” Sultan said.
The government started its negotiations for the vaccines in July 2020 and is still doing its best to get as many vaccines.
“We are trying to vaccinate as many people as possible despite a shortage,” the special assistant said.
As demand for vaccines increases across the world, multiple countries producing vaccines have restricted their exports.
To combat this shortage, Pakistan in collaboration with China has decided to produce the vaccine filling locally. “The National Institute of Health will produce three million doses every month,” the special assistant said. When this begins, our dependency on other countries for finished vaccines will reduce, he remarked.
Sultan urged people to refrain from comparing Pakistan to other countries without keeping factors such as population and production into consideration.
“Vaccines are very important to prevent the virus from spreading but what’s even more important is following SOPs,” he concluded.