ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s government struck an optimistic tone on Sunday, hoping to overcome a COVID-19 vaccine shortage in various parts of the country, including in the capital city, Islamabad, with the arrival of over 6 million doses of the crucial jabs.
Health Chief Dr. Faisal Sultan said that while Pakistan had one million doses of COVID-19 vaccines in stock, authorities were expecting 1.55 million doses on Sunday, 2.5 million doses on Tuesday, and another 2-3 million doses between June 23 and June 30.
“Therefore, any pressure in the system and local/distribution issues will be eased by Mon/Tue,” Dr. Sultan said in a Twitter post on Saturday.
The National Command and Operation Center (NCOC), the federal body dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, confirmed the arrival of 1.55 million doses of China’s Sinovac vaccines on Sunday.
“This is part of planned contracted quantity purchased from China,” the NCOC said in a statement.
“China as a time-tested friend of Pakistan, has taken special measures to ensure uninterrupted supply of vaccines to Pakistan. Another consignment of 2-3 million doses of Chinese vaccines will be reaching Pakistan next week,” it added.
Pakistan has been grappling with a vaccine shortage since Monday, especially in Islamabad and the southern Sindh province, where authorities have shut down nearly 40 percent of vaccination centers due to a scarcity of the COVID-19 jabs.
“This vaccine shortage is temporary and we are hopeful to overcome it in the next two to three days,” Dr. Zaeem Zia, a district health officer in Islamabad, told Arab News on Sunday
He added that the federal government would provide more vaccines by Monday to “ease the pressure on vaccination centers, especially in rural areas of Islamabad.”
Islamabad’s administration has vaccinated 52.7 percent or 580,000 of its population since February when the nationwide vaccination drive was launched, with plans to inoculate at least 1.1 million by the year-end.
“We have been successful in flattening the virus curve in Islamabad through restrictions and vaccination,” Zia said.
“We will have sufficient vaccine supplies in the next couple of days to achieve our target,” he added.
Since February, the South Asian nation of 220 million has procured around 14.5 million jabs from various sources, including COVAX, a global vaccine-sharing facility for developing countries led by the World Health Organization.
Pakistan has allocated $1.1 billion in the fiscal year 2022 to procure coronavirus vaccines from the international market to achieve herd immunity.
The government says it’s aiming to vaccinate between 45 million and 65 million people this year, with plans to inoculate 70 million people by next year.
So far, Pakistan has administered more than 13 million doses of the vaccine.