Pakistan hopes to get Chinese COVID-19 vaccine in ‘early February’ — health chief 

In this picture taken on November 25, 2020 a volunteer leaves after being administered the new Chinese-made vaccine for the Covid-19 coronavirus, the first ever Phase 3 clinical trial for any vaccine in Pakistan, at a hospital in Islamabad. (AFP/File)
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Updated 13 January 2021

Pakistan hopes to get Chinese COVID-19 vaccine in ‘early February’ — health chief 

  • Dr. Faisal Sultan says vaccinations in the first phase will begin in the first quarter of this year 
  • General public to start being vaccinated between June and September, COVID-19 task force chief says 

ISLAMABAD: Dr. Faisal Sultan, the de facto health minister of Pakistan, on Tuesday said Pakistan was hopeful it would receive the first batch of the COVID-19 vaccine from China’s Sinopharm in “early February.”
Pakistan said last month it would purchase 1.2 million COVID-19 vaccine doses from Sinopharm in the first official confirmation of a vaccine purchase by the South Asian country as it battles a second wave of infections.
“We hope to be able to get [vaccine doses from Sinopharm] in the first quarter of this year, hopefully starting in early February,” Dr. Sultan, who is the prime minister’s special adviser on health, told Arab News, adding that the government aimed to begin the process of vaccination within the first quarter of this year.

A file photo of Dr Faisal Sultan, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination taken on on August 3, 2020. (Photo courtesy: social media)

“We are hoping to deploy the vaccine within the first quarter. The 1.1 million [doses] are just the first phase,” he said.
Responding to a question about whether Pakistan planned to get the vaccine from other companies besides Sinopharm, Sultan said the government was looking at “multiple options” and was in touch with all companies whose vaccines had been approved internationally.
The National Command and Operation Center (NCOC), the Pakistan federal government’s central body dealing with the pandemic, on Sunday started registering frontline health care workers who will be vaccinated in the first phase.
Pakistan is currently battling its second wave of the virus and has so far recorded a total of 506,701 infections with 10,717 deaths.
“This is the first batch of 1.2 million doses for health workers; there will be more orders which will be used for the public in phases,” Dr. Atta-ur-Rahman, chairman of the COVID-19 task force, told Arab News, saying both the government and private sector companies would bring vaccines into Pakistan but the private sector had to get their vaccines registered with the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP).
“DRAP will check and have control on both the quality and price of the vaccine from the private companies,” said Rahman, adding that the general public would be vaccinated between June and September this year.
“Pakistan is considering to get the vaccines from all the companies whose vaccines have been approved internationally,” he said, “and it will be available in bulk for the general public in the second quarter, from June to September this year.”

PM Khan calls for affordable supply of COVID vaccines, debt relief for developing countries

Updated 25 January 2021

PM Khan calls for affordable supply of COVID vaccines, debt relief for developing countries

  • Pakistani prime minister delivers statement at fourth session of UN Conference on Trade and Development
  • Offers five-point agenda to address structural barriers hampering global development during pandemic

ISLAMABAD: Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday proposed a five-point agenda to address structural barriers hampering global development during the coronavirus pandemic, urging the "equitable and affordable" supply of vaccines to developing countries and calling for additional debt relief. 

Khan presented a statement at the fourth session of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development Intergovernmental Group of Experts on Financing for Development. 

He said the pandemic offered an opportunity to address “structural barriers hampering global prosperity and development,” proposing a five-point agenda.

“One, a viable framework for equitable and affordable supply of COVID vaccine to developing countries. The coverage of the COVAX facility must be expanded. This would enable the developing countries to spend their precious resources on socio-economic development needs,” the PM said. 

He said developing nations should get additional debt relief, including suspension of debt repayments for the most stressed countries until the end of the pandemic, restructuring of their public-sector debt under an agreed and inclusive multilateral framework; and expanding concessional financing through multilateral development banks.

“Three, a general allocation of Special Drawing Rights (SDRs) of 500 billion dollars to help alleviate balance-of-payment pressures,” Khan added. “Four, return of stolen assets held by corrupt politicians and criminals ... Reportedly, a staggering amount of 7 trillion dollars is parked in 'haven' destinations. And it is also reported that one trillion dollars annually leaves the developing countries for these “haven” destinations.”

Finally, the PM said, mobilizing $100 billion annually by developed countries for climate action in developing countries was a target that needed to be met. 

“Economic malaise and recession, like the coronavirus, is highly communicable,” Khan said. “Global policy measures, along the lines I have outlined, are urgently needed to save lives, revive economies, and build back better.”

Pakistan has reported 534,041 COVID-19 cases so far, and 11,318 deaths, far lower than what officials had feared.

“In Pakistan, our efforts have been aimed at ensuring that we save people from dying from the virus, and at the same time preventing them from dying from hunger,” Khan said. “Our strategy fortunately has worked well so far. But continuous efforts are needed to fully overcome the second wave of the virus. And also at the same time to maintain and stimulate economic growth.”