Pakistan to vaccinate around 8 million senior citizens from next week.

ISLAMABAD, March 6 (INP): In the backdrop of the impending COVID-19 third wave, Pakistan has finalized all preparations to vaccinate its around 8 million senior citizens above 60 years old next week, Gwadar Pro reported on Saturday.

So far 185,000 senior citizens in the country have registered themselves for inoculation.

Pakistan’s drug regulator has approved two coronavirus vaccines, China’s Sinopharm and Russia’s Sputnik V, for people above 60 years of age, as the country’s infections tally nears 600,000.

The Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan’s (DRAP) officials said the decision to greenlight both vaccines was made during a meeting of the body and it was based on recommendations from a six-member specialist committee.

Anyhow DRAP spokesperson Akhtar Abbass said that unless DRAP final decision came into effect, it was premature to proceed.

It is hoped that fresh batch of 0.5 million Sinopharm vaccine, expected to land in few days, will help contribute in the launch of senior citizen vaccination drive.

First batch of 0.5 million dozes of Sinopharm vaccine had arrived on 1st February.

“Both governments are in process and we want to finish it as soon as possible,” Chinese Press Attache Ms. Dong Wenli told Chine Economic Net.

“We are taking with Pakistan government to start the process,” another Chinese official in political section Ms. Bao Zhong said.

With new 500000 batch of Sinopharm vaccine arrives, total donated dozes will stand at 1 million.

The government started registration of senior citizens for the vaccination programme on Feb. 15 soon after its announcement by Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Health Dr. Faisal Sultan on Twitter.

“All Pakistanis above the age of 65 can start registration for COVID-19 vaccine starting today. Send an SMS from any mobile phone with your CNIC to 1166 or visit nims.nadra.gov.pk to get registered.

Vaccine center and date of appointment be communicated once vaccine arrives,” he tweeted.

Earlier, Covax — an international alliance, which has pledged to provide free vaccine for 20 percent population of Pakistan, has intimated the government that 2.8 million doses of AstraZeneca vaccine are expected to reach Pakistan in the first week of March.

Moreover, around 17.1 million doses will reach Pakistan by the end of June this year. AstraZeneca vaccine can be administered to senior citizens.

Sinopharm vaccine was developed by the Beijing Institute of Biological Products, a subsidiary of state-owned conglomerate Sinopharm.

The company announced last month that preliminary data from last-stage trials had shown a 79.3 percent effective.

Previously in a statement, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister (SAPM) on Health Dr. Faisal Sultan had hoped to procure at least 1m doses of coronavirus vaccines by March, saying it ultimately set the target to inoculate 70 percent of the country’s population against the virus.

INP/javed