ISLAMABAD: Pakistan aims to vaccinate against the coronavirus 70 percent of its adult population to achieve herd immunity, the country’s de facto health chief said on Thursday.
Pakistan is currently battling its second viral wave and recorded 1,745 new infections on Friday, with 47 deaths. Nearly 528,900 Pakistanis have contracted the disease since the beginning of the outbreak in February and more than 11,200 have died of it.
“The aim is to vaccinate about 70 percent of the eligible population in 2021 and the first batch of doses will be given to frontline health care workers in the first quarter,” Dr. Faisal Sultan, the prime minister’s special assistant on health, said in a media briefing.
“I we can vaccinate 70 percent of our population, I believe the country would achieve immunity,” he said, adding in a tweet that the government will provide vaccine shots free of cost.
The Government will provide Covid vaccine to the public free of cost. The aim is to vaccinate about 70% of the eligible population in 2021 and the first batch of doses will be given to frontline healthcare workers in the first quarter.
More details at https://t.co/u6EgvMKZKK pic.twitter.com/SsvToSjH1P
— Faisal Sultan (@fslsltn) January 21, 2021
As Dr. Sultan said that about 120 million people of the country’s population of 220 million are under 18 years of age, achieving herd immunity would mean vaccinating some 70 million.
Pakistan is in contact with a number of vaccine makers and earlier this month, AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine was approved for emergency use in Pakistan, making it the first coronavirus vaccine to get the green light for use in the South Asian country.
Pakistan is also expecting 500,000 free doses of the COVID-19 vaccine from China by Jan. 31.
Earlier this week, Dr. Sultan said a phase three clinical trial for a potential vaccine being developed by China’s CanSino Biologics was nearly complete and Pakistan would get 20 million doses if the vaccine turned out to be “effective.”
Under Pakistan’s approved vaccine protocol, frontline health care workers would be vaccinated in the first phase followed by people above 65 years of age and the general public in the third phase.
The registration of 300,000 frontline workers for coronavirus vaccination was completed last week.