Pakistan to start coronavirus vaccination drive in 2021 — health official 

In this picture taken on November 25, 2020 a volunteer leaves a hospital in Islamabad after being administered a new vaccine for the COVID-19 coronavirus during a Phase 3 clinical trial in Pakistan. (AFP/File)
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Updated 03 December 2020

Pakistan to start coronavirus vaccination drive in 2021 — health official 

  • Parliamentary secretary on health says all citizens to be vaccinated free of charge, talks underway with three manufacturers 
  • Initially priority to be given to health care workers, law enforcement agencies, exposed persons 

ISLAMABAD: Nausheen Hamid, Pakistani parliamentary secretary on Health, has said the government will launch a free COVID-19 vaccination drive in the second quarter of 2021.

Hamid’s announcement comes a day after the federal cabinet approved the allocation of $150 million to procure a coronavirus vaccine by the first quarter of next year.

Government data released on Wednesday showed Pakistan had recorded 75 COVID-19 deaths in the last 24 hours, the highest in over five months, as the nationwide tally of fatalities jumped to 8,205 and infections reached 406,810.

“Government will provide the coronavirus vaccine free of cost to the people,” Hamid said in a tweet. “Government will start the vaccination from the second quarter of 2021.”

An official at the health ministry told the Dawn newspaper all vaccines under routine immunization programs, including the polio vaccine, were already provided free of cost in Pakistan. 

“The government has allocated an amount of $150 million for the Covid-19 vaccine and it will be provided free of cost,” he said. “However, different segments of society will be prioritized for the vaccination and initially it will be given to health care workers, officials of law enforcement agencies, most exposed persons, etc.”

Speaking to a private TV channel, Hamid said phase 3 clinical trials of a Chinese vaccine were ongoing in Pakistan and she hoped it would be available to the public “once its efficacy was proved.”

She said the government would consider multiple factors before procuring a vaccine, including the type of vaccine, efficacy, safety and side effects, storage requirements, cost, production capacity of the manufacturer and whether Pakistan had access to procure it.

Hamid said Pakistan had signed up for the UN’s Covax Facility, a global initiative aimed at equitable access to safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines worldwide, adding that Pakistan would buy from the Covax platforms on cheap rates. 

“The Covax platform will provide a vaccine to twenty percent of the country’s population,” she said, adding that talks were underway with three companies for the purchase of the vaccine.


Pakistan bourse lists debt instruments by Abu Dhabi Group bank

Updated 24 min 49 sec ago

Pakistan bourse lists debt instruments by Abu Dhabi Group bank

  • Pakistan stock exchange on Thursday formally listed the first Medium-Term Finance Certificates worth Rs11 billion issued by Bank Alfalah
  • A Term Finance Certificate is a corporate debt instrument issued by companies in Pakistan to generate short and medium-term funds

KARACHI: The Pakistan stock exchange on Thursday formally listed its first Medium Term Finance Certificates (MTFCs) worth Rs11 billion, issued by Bank Alfalah — a subsidiary of the Emirati Abu Dhabi Group.
A Term Finance Certificate is a corporate debt instrument issued by companies in Pakistan to generate short and medium-term funds. The amount raised through the instrument will be primarily utilized to invest in government issued securities, including treasury bills, Pakistan Investment Bonds and Ijarah Sukuk.
“We have taken the first step for the growth of Pakistan’s capital market,” Atif Bajwa, the president and CEO of Bank Alfalah, said at a gong ceremony held to mark the listing. “The instrument has received overwhelming response from investors and it was oversubscribed from its value of Rs11 billion.”
Alfalah Bank is majority owned and operated by the Abu Dhabi Group which has 49.03% ownership. The International Finance Corporation (IFC), an investment arm of the World Bank, partnered with the Bank in 2014 and holds a 14.74% stake in the bank.
The bank has a total approved issue size of up to Rs50 billion which would be floated in multiple tranches over a period of five years. Out of a tranche A issue of Rs 11 billion, TFCs of Rs 9 billion have already been subscribed by Pre- (Initial Public Offering) IPO investors.
The Bank’s CEO said the economy was reviving, particularly the construction and housing sectors, as was evident from expansion in the allied sectors of cement and steel.
“These sectors will see further growth in the future but it needs long-term and sustainable funding which is being raised through debt instruments like the Medium-Term Note Program,” Bajwa added.
Speakers at the ceremony said the recent growth of Pakistan’s stock market had made it an attractive avenue for investment, with higher returns compared to regional peers.
In recent months, Pakistan’s stock market has emerged as one of the best performing markets in the Asian region despite the coronavirus pandemic.