Pakistani experts finalize recommendations for speedy procurement of COVID-19 vaccine

A laboratory technician holds a dose of a COVID-19 vaccine at the National Primate Research Center of Thailand at Chulalongkorn University in Saraburi on May 23, 2020. (AFP/File)
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Updated 20 August 2020

Pakistani experts finalize recommendations for speedy procurement of COVID-19 vaccine

  • Government encouraged to work with Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization for procurement support and co-financing
  • Health ministry says it will prioritize vulnerable segments as soon as the vaccine becomes available

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s health ministry said on Thursday that a group of experts working for the government had finalized their recommendations for the speedy procurement and deployment of COVID-19 vaccine as soon as it became available.
In an official handout circulated in Islamabad, it informed that these proposals would also be presented to Prime Minister Imran Khan during the ongoing month.
“The federal government has fast tracked processes for the provision of COVID-19 vaccine as soon as it is available,” said the statement. “In this context, technical committees working under the guidance of the National Command and Operation Center have finalized their recommendations … [which] shall be submitted to the prime minister during this month.”
The statement added that out of 10 vaccines currently developed by leading global manufacturers, six were already undergoing phase 3 trials.
“The committee has recommended engagement with Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI) for support in procurement through co-financing,” it added. “It has also been recommended to the government to arrange finances for the purpose. Also among the recommendations is enhanced collaboration with China including in clinical trials of the vaccine and efforts toward indigenous manufacturing of the vaccine.”
Pakistan has already decided to participate in the phase 3 clinical trials to test a COVID-19 vaccine developed by a Chinese company, CanSinoBio, starting next month. According to senior health ministry officials, the trials, which will be carried out in five cities of the country, will assure preferential vaccine supply and pricing for the country.
“The priority groups for receiving the vaccination (as soon as it becomes available) will be vulnerable segments of the population,” the statement noted. “The committee has also recommended preparation of a deployment plan and arranging cold storage facilities for the vaccine. The infrastructure of Expanded Program on Immunization with additional resources is being recommended for deployment and delivery of the COVID vaccine.”

Nepalese climbers bag mountaineering’s last great prize: winter ascent of Pakistan’s K2

Updated 17 min 56 sec ago

Nepalese climbers bag mountaineering’s last great prize: winter ascent of Pakistan’s K2

  • One of the ten Nepalese mountaineers performed the feat without using an oxygen cylinder
  • K2 earned the nickname of ‘savage mountain’ since a large number of climbers lost their lives while trying to scale it

ISLAMABAD: A group of Nepalese climbers made history on Saturday by summiting the world’s second tallest mountain, K2, in winter, according to its team leader who made the announcement on Facebook only minutes after making the accomplishment. 

“The Karakorum’s ‘Savage Mountain’ has been summited in the most dangerous season: WINTER,” Chhang Dawa Sherpa exclaimed in his social media post.

His announcement was also confirmed by an official of the Alpine Club of Pakistan which deals with mountaineering expeditions in the country.

At 8,611 meters, K2 was the only peak among the 14 “8000ers” located in the Karakorum and Himalayan mountain ranges that remained unconquered during winter. 

Along the icy glaciers of the Karakoram, mountaineers and locals speak about K2 summits with a hushed reverence, and folklore in the area is rife with mythical stories of the mountain “permitting” climbers to reach its top — considered the ultimate honor granted to a mortal by nature. 

When a climb doesn't go as planned, locals tell each other the mountain refused to be scaled. 

“The Nepalese climbers finally reached the summit of Mt. K2 … this afternoon at 17:00 local time,” Dawa wrote. “This is the first winter ascent of the 2nd highest mountain in the world and the ONLY eight-thousander (8000er) to be climbed in winter. This is a greatest achievement in the history of mountaineering, this is a good example of team work … ‘If a mountain lets you climb it, no one can stop you.’” 

One of the ten Nepalese climbers, Mingma G, also became the first mountaineer to summit the peak in winter without an oxygen cylinder.

K2 earned the nickname of “savage mountain” since a large number of climbers — 86 in all — lost their lives while trying to scale it. 

In 2008, 11 climbers from an international expedition died in what was considered as the single worst accident in the history of mountaineering. 

K2 straddles the Pakistan-China border. While it is about two-and-a-half football fields shorter than Everest (8,848 meters), it is widely considered to be the toughest and most dangerous mountain to climb. 

More than 300 climbers have scaled K2 in spring and summer. Italians Achille Compagnoni and Lino Lacedelli were the first to reach its summit in the summer of 1954.