LAHORE: Vaccination centers are running out of COVID-19 shots, Pakistan Medical Association (PMA) secretary general Dr. Qaisar Sajjad said on Saturday, a day after the PMA warned of a looming fourth wave of the pandemic.
In a press release issued on Friday evening, the PMA said that as the government is reopening all sectors over a steady decline in coronavirus cases, without strict implementation of health guidelines, Pakistan "can face fourth wave" of the pandemic, as the highly contagious virus variants first reported in the UK, South Africa, Brazil and India are already present in the country.
It advised all to get vaccinated as soon as possible, as vaccination is "the most protective shield against COVID-19," and requested the government to ensure uninterrupted supplies of vaccine doses.
“Vaccination centers are running short of vaccines and the people are being asked to go back," Dr. Sajjad told Arab News. "The situation is really very bad in terms of vaccine supply. The doctors have stopped vaccination drive and we are receiving complaints from all over the country, especially from various districts of Punjab, that there is no vaccine available."
He added that the call to strictly follow coronavirus restrictions was also related to the presence of the Delta variant of COVID-19, first identified in India, which is more contagious and resistant to vaccines compared with other forms of COVID-19.
Punjab Health Minister Dr. Yasmeen Rashid has also confirmed the shortage of COVID-19 shots in her province.
"Arrival of Chinese vaccine was due on June 10, but due to some technical issues it was delayed and would arrive on June 20," she told Arab News. "We are running short of AstraZeneca vaccine and people have been asked to come after a week."
The federal government has meanwhile said that it expects 6.5 million vaccine doses to arrive in Pakistan this month.
"Any pressure in the system & local/distribution issues will be eased by Mon/Tue, inshallah," Pakistan's health chief, Dr. Faisal Sultan, said in a series of tweets on Saturday.
At the current vaccination pace, however, reaching herd immunity in the country may take years.
"COVID-19 is a phenomenon that will persist until 80 percent of population is vaccinated," Dr. Javed Akram, vice chancellor of the University of Health Sciences in Lahore, told Arab News.
"The whole process will take two, three years or maybe more than that."