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Pakistan to produce CanSino Bio Vaccine, announces Faisal

-Says Pakistan to vaccinate 70mn people by end of 2021
-Claims Pakistan secures 30 m doses, aims to continue further procurement
-Sindh warns further restrictions if SOPs violation continues
-NADRA issuing certificates for both single-dose, double-dose Vaccines
-NCOC reports below 100 deaths, 4,213 new cases

By Asghar Ali Mubarak

ISLAMABAD: Special Assistant to Prime Minister on National Health Services, Regulations, and Coordination Dr Faisal Sultan Monday announced that Pakistan will become largely self-sufficient in meeting its COVID-19 vaccine needs as it will begin producing the single-dose CanSino Bio vaccine locally.
In a media briefing, Dr Faisal said that due to the agreement on technology transfer, the National Institute of Health (NIH) will be able to produce three million doses per month which will significantly reduce the country’s dependence on other countries.
He said that China was a strong partner and had gone out of its way in keeping up a supply chain and transferring technology to Pakistan.
He said that the government had planned to vaccinate 70 million population by the end of the year 2021. He said that the population of Pakistan which was currently eligible for vaccination was 100 million out of 220 million as the vaccines had only been approved for those above 18. He added for the first half of the year, January to June 2021, the government had received and expected to receive 19.82 million doses. He added 91% of these doses were purchased, which clearly shows we were not dependent on donations.
Dr Faisal said, “In totality, we have signed deals for over 30 million doses already so the fact that we have already secured 30 million doses and will continue to procure more the rest of the year should be very reassuring.”He said that Pakistan was now vaccinating nearly 150,000 people daily while the target was to reach 300,000 vaccinations daily in the country.
He said that the government has started vaccination for 40 years and above and in this regard, the registration was opened last week. Dr Faisal said, “Our procurement is a result of proactive efforts. The government initiated the conversation with vaccine manufacturers and GAVI in July 2020 which is well before any vaccine had been fully developed and approved.”
He said that the Economic Coordination Committee approved $150 million dollars for vaccine procurement on November 20, 2020, while the Cabinet confirmed this on December 1, 2020. He said that it was important to note that vaccines did not get approved for use until mid or late December as Pfizer approved on December 11, 2020, AstraZeneca approved on December 30, 2020, while Sinopharm was also in late-stage Phase III trials in December. He said that manufacturers like Astra Zeneca and Moderna have been unable to meet demand while some of the world’s largest vaccine manufacturing countries have imposed embargos on exporting vaccines until their local demand is met.
He said that some have drawn comparisons to countries in the region with smaller economies like Bhutan which has vaccinated over 60% of its population. He added Bhutan has a population of almost 750,000 which means they have vaccinated around 500,000 people.
Dr Faisal said,” Pakistan has a population of 220 million and we have vaccinated over 2.5 million people. So Pakistan has vaccinated five times as many people as Bhutan actually and, in fact, three times the whole population of Bhutan.”
Meanwhile, Sindh government spokesperson Murtaza Wahab said Monday the government would impose harsher restrictions if the people and businesses fail to follow the imposed coronavirus standard operating procedures (SOPs).
Wahab, in a video statement released on Twitter, urged people to understand the sensitivity of the situation as it could get out of control at any moment. The spokesperson said the coronavirus situation is worsening with every passing day and to keep the virus at bay, the government has imposed certain restrictions. “Despite taking some strict decisions, the government gave some relief to people that they may live a normal life in line with SOPs,” he said.
Unfortunately, people have violated the SOPs, he said, adding the offices and businesses that were allowed to operate are not following the government’s guidelines either. “Restaurants, grocery stores, and medical stores that are operating are violating coronavirus SOPs,” he lamented. “I believe the government had imposed the restrictions for the benefit of the people but if you keep violating the SOPs, the government will be forced to impose harsher restrictions,” he added.
NADRA issuing certificates:The National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) clarified on Monday it is issuing certificates for both single-dose and double-dose coronavirus vaccines. Responding to media reports that the authority is not issuing certificates for single-dose vaccines, NADRA termed such reports as “speculative and unfounded”. The spokesperson of the authority clarified to the newspaper that NADRA has been issuing certificates for both single-dose and double-dose vaccines.
“People who had been vaccinated with single-dose vaccines have already received vaccine certificates from the authority,” the spokesman stated. He said NADRA has so far issued 1,451 certificates for people who had gotten inoculated with the single-dose CanSino Bio vaccine. The spokesperson further said the authority has also issued 47,288 certificates for double-dose vaccines across the country. He said people who get vaccinated can conveniently receive certificates for single-dose as well as double-dose vaccines from the authority.
COVID cases, deaths:Pakistan reported deaths below 100 after several days as 79 people lost their lives to coronavirus in the last 24 hours, taking the total death tally to 18,149 nationwide on Monday.
Last time the country reported below 100 deaths was on April 25 when 70 people succumbed to the virus nationwide.
According to the latest data provided by the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC), 4,213 people tested positive for COVID-19 when 45,954 tests were conducted in the past 24 hours across the country. The positivity rate of coronavirus cases stands at 9.16% with total cases at 834,146.
The number of active cases stands at 87,953 with the nationwide recoveries rising to 728,044.Punjab remains the worst-hit province by the pandemic both in terms of cases as well as deaths followed by Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and Balochistan. To date, 306,929 coronavirus cases have been confirmed in Punjab, 285,626 in Sindh, 120,064 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 22,620 in Balochistan, 76,209 in Islamabad, 17,371 in Azad Kashmir, and 5,327 in Gilgit-Baltistan. Furthermore, 8,572 individuals have lost their lives to the pandemic in Punjab, 4,667 in Sindh, 3,310 in KP, 237 in Balochistan, 691 in Islamabad, 483 in Azad Kashmir, and 107 in GB.

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