Naveed Ahmad Khan
ISLAMABAD, 4 July 2021 – Today 2.5 million doses of Moderna (mRNA-1273) COVID-19 vaccines supplied through the COVAX Facility’s dose-sharing mechanism, and donated by the United States, started being distributed by the Government of Pakistan to vaccinate priority groups across the country, in line with the National Deployment and Vaccination Plan.
So far three million people have been fully vaccinated and 13.5 million partially vaccinated in Pakistan, using vaccines which the Government procured through COVAX or through bilateral agreements. More than 960,000 cases of COVID-19 have been reported in the country since the start of the outbreak and at least 22,379 people have succumbed to the disease.
“WHO applauds Pakistan’s achievement of effectively scaling-up its vaccination campaign across the country. The available COVID-19 vaccines have been equitably distributed and have reached even the remotest areas of Pakistan, protecting millions. Science, solutions and solidarity have been the tools for addressing the biggest health threat of the past century. We thank the Government of United States for showing their solidarity through this donation,” said Dr Palitha Mahipala, WHO Representative in Pakistan. “WHO will continue supporting the Government of Pakistan to swiftly and safely administer the donated doses of vaccines and advocate with COVAX partners for the provision of sufficient vaccines to reach all vulnerable populations.”
The arrival of this consignment is welcome news as the latest wave of COVID-19 has had a devastating impact on children and their families in South Asia. There is an urgent need to intensify efforts and take additional steps to close gaps and strengthen essential health services to protect the most vulnerable families.
In the spirit of solidarity, well-supplied countries are allocating extra doses of COVID-19 vaccines for low- and middle- income countries. This can help limit the spread of COVID-19, prevent new variants from emerging and ensure that vaccines can be allocated equitably to countries.
“UNICEF thanks the Government of United States for its generous donation of the vaccines to Pakistan through the COVAX facility and looks forward to more vaccines being available in the country as other COVAX partners share their excess doses of vaccines” said Aida Girma, UNICEF Representative in Pakistan. ”Only global solidarity can help curb the pandemic. When the virus spreads anywhere, it poses a threat everywhere — especially as it mutates into deadlier or more contagious variants. UNICEF will continue to procure and supply safe, effective and affordable COVID-19 vaccines in low- and middle-income countries, on behalf of COVAX, and to support the Government of Pakistan in ensuring an efficient and effective roll-out of the vaccination campaign through procurement services of essential COVID-19 supplies; expansion of cold chain capacity to ensure safe storage of vaccines; and risk communication and community engagement to increase vaccine uptake and ensure adherence to COVID-19 safety measures.”
Strictly complying with COVID-19 safety measures remains crucial to curb the spread of virus. These
include regularly washing hands with soap for at least 20 seconds or use a sanitizer; wear a mask; remain at least six feet away from other people; avoid crowded places; and stay home when having COVID-19 symptoms.
“At this time of constrained global supply, we are delighted to see dose-sharing pledges translated into immediate deliveries through the COVAX Facility and today’s shipment means we can now reach and protect those most at risk in Pakistan.” said Mario Jimenez, Gavi Programme Manager for Pakistan. “The only way we will beat this pandemic is as one global community acting together.”
The COVAX Facility aims to help address the acute phase of the global pandemic by the end of 2021 by providing rapid, fair, and equitable access to approved vaccines to all participating countries, regardless of income level. It enables the protection of frontline health care and social workers, as well as other high-risk and vulnerable groups.
COVAX (COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access) is co-led by Gavi, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) and WHO, together with UNICEF. It is funded thanks to generous support from partner governments, foundations, and private sector corporations. So far it has delivered more than 90 million doses of different COVID-19 vaccines to 133 countries and territories around the world.