Pakistan has purchased 13mn doses of coronavirus (Covid-19) vaccine from three Chinese companies and expects to receive them in the next two months, its health minister said yesterday.
The vaccines were procured from Sinopharm, CanSinoBio and Sinovac, Faisal Sultan said.
They will supplement around 2.4mn shots from the Covax programme for poorer nations that are expected to arrive during that period.
“We will be continuously procuring from all available sources across the world,” Sultan said. “For now, China remains the primary source for vaccines to meet our present and ongoing needs but all our options are open for effective and safe vaccines.”
Sultan said around 2.4mn doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, part of the first tranche of 14mn doses under the Covax programme run by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and Gavi, would also be arriving and it would likely come from South Korea.
Only slightly more than 2mn people have been vaccinated so far in the country of 220mn people, the lowest rate in South Asia.
The Covax programme has committed 45mn doses to the country up to the end of 2021, and deliveries were meant to start in March.
However India, making the AstraZeneca vaccination, halted supplies due to its own worsening Covid-19 situation.
“The delay in Covax meant that our expected volume of vaccination could not materialise in February and March,” Sultan said. “But ... the drive is picking up speed.”
Pakistan – scrambling to secure any supplies – started a vaccination drive in February with 1.2mn doses donated by China, and was able to procure over 4mn doses from China in April.
Although Pakistan is not seeing the crisis suffered by neighbouring India, cases have been increasing and the death toll of 201 recorded on Tuesday was the highest daily toll since the pandemic began.
Pakistan has recorded 17,680 Covid-19 deaths and a total of 815,711 cases.
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