The Federal Minister for Planning, Development & Special Initiatives, Asad Umar, said in a statement that the government has approved the procurement of the COVID-19 vaccine to be scheduled for immediate deployment in the country by March 2021.
Minister Asad Umar revealed that the AstraZeneca vaccine has been approved while discussing the stance of the National Command Operation Center (NCOC) on the matter of vaccine rollouts.
He also added that the government is engaged in a dialogue with the Chinese company Sinopharm regarding the urgent deployment of a substitute vaccine.
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The federal minister said in an interview that the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP) had approved the vaccine to begin immunity drives across the country.
A population-wise breakdown for the rollout of the vaccine has been approved, with healthcare workers and people between 60 to 65 years of age to be vaccinated on priority.
He also added that almost 3 million frontline healthcare workers have been trained to administer the vaccine.
The private sector will be allowed to import vaccines from international channels after going through the mandatory screening procedures, he said.
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In other news, the Parliamentary Secretary of National Health Services (NHS), Dr. Nausheen Hamid, said on 13 January that the Sinopharm vaccine had been selected for urgent COVID-19 deployment in the country.
She also mentioned that the government is engaged with four other pharmaceutical companies for potential procurement plans in the near future.
As of 18 January 2021, Pakistan reported 521,211 COVID-positive cases and 475,228 recoveries. The mortality index is 10,997, with 2,348 patients in intensive care.
According to the NCOC,1,920 cases were reported in the last 24 hours, with Karachi being hailed as a breeding ground for the virus.
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