Government wants to vaccinate 70m people by end of 2021: report

Government wants to vaccinate 70m people by end of 2021: report

A  healthcare worker administers the coronavirus vaccine on a patient. Photo: file
  • PTI government allocates $240 million to obtain coronavirus vaccine.
  • Federal Planning Minister Asad Umar admits getting complete population vaccinated will be a challenge. 
  • NCOC head emphasises on need to launch an awareness campaign for vaccinations to counter reluctance to get vaccinated in rural areas.

ISLAMABAD: Although the government is yet to acquire more vaccines for coronavirus, it is still hoping to vaccinate at least 70 million people by the end of this year, reported The News.

But the major hurdle being faced by Pakistan is the ban on the export of the vaccine imposed by India. Pakistan had hoped to procure a maximum number of vaccines from New Delhi.

Despite the bottlenecks, Pakistani officials are confident that the daily vaccination may hit 100,000 persons per day soon. They are also expecting that the vaccination will reach 200,000 per day in the coming weeks and months as it is gaining momentum in the country.

The PTI-led government has so far approved $150 million for procurement of vaccines for the COVID-19 pandemic and another formal summary will be forwarded to get an approval of $90 million for this purpose obtained from the Islamic Development Bank. In totality, the allocated amount will go up to $240 million to obtain the vaccine that had become scarce in all countries.

Read more: Coronavirus vaccination at home for persons over 60 with disabilities, says Punjab health minister

National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) chairperson Asad Umar told the publication that Pakistan has so far acquired six million vaccine doses and Islamabad has taken doses from donor countries.

Umar blamed a lack of availability to procure the vaccine over financial reasons, saying that the money is available. He shared that many Pakistanis had contacted the government to make contributions, but the government is asking them to donate vaccines instead.

“The availability of vaccines had become problematic but we will ensure its availability in our country,” said Umar confidently.

Umar said the government had procured six million vaccines so far, but the private sector had brought 60,000 vaccine doses only. He said the private sector could bring the vaccine if they could procure it from anywhere.

The minister gave the example of Canada and stated that they allocated a higher per capita amount for the procurement of vaccines but were not able to do so as they were dependent on the US. He explained that Canada faced problems after the US decided to vaccinate its people first rather than export them.

Read more: What is Pakistan’s COVID-19 vaccination plan?

Umar said that after slapping a ban on exporting vaccines by India, it became problematic but now the government has made alternative plans with the hope that the target of providing vaccines to 70 million people will be achieved by the end of the current calendar year by December 31, 2021.

The NCOC chairperson said there was a requirement to provide vaccines to people over 18 years of age and Pakistan required to provide vaccination to almost 100 million people, but it was estimated that after excluding pregnant women or severely infected people, Pakistan had to vaccine almost 70 million people.

He said the vaccine will be available soon and the government will be in search of those who had not been vaccinated.

Read more: Coronavirus vaccination registration to open for all citizens after Eid, says Asad Umar

“It would be challenging for the government to convince the whole population to get vaccinated,” he said and added that they made arrangements to vaccinate people through mobile vehicles, but in rural areas, people were reluctant to get vaccinated.

He added that there is a need to launch an awareness campaign about coronavirus vaccinations to counter the problem.

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