Naveed Ahmad Khan
ISLAMABAD: Today three million doses of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine donated by the Government of the United States were delivered by the COVAX Facility to Pakistan. This is the first tranche of 10,358,010 US-donated doses which are being supplied through the global COVID-19 equity scheme’s dose-sharing mechanism.
Over the past four months, COVAX has delivered more than 17 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine to Pakistan. This includes 3 million doses of Pfizer and 5.5 million doses of Moderna donated by the United States under COVAX’s dose-sharing mechanism; 6.1 million doses of Sinopharm, 2.4 million doses of AstraZeneca and 100,160 doses of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine procured by COVAX. More doses are expected to arrive in the coming weeks.
All doses support the Government of Pakistan’s national vaccination campaign. The National Command and Operation Center has just announced that children above the age of 17 would be eligible for vaccination from September 1st, as well as anyone above 12 who is immunocompromised.
“COVID -19 vaccines are effective and safe. The arrival of additional COVAX vaccine comes at a crucial time when Pakistan is facing a surge in COVID-19 infections with approximately reporting 4,000 cases per day. WHO appreciates the Government of the United States for their continued and generous support to Pakistan, said Dr Palitha Mahipala, WHO Representative in Pakistan. “WHO is committed to ensuring equitable vaccine allocation leaving no one behind and fully support the Government of Pakistan’s efforts to increase availability and safe administration of vaccines to cover 70 million people by end of this year. WHO urges people to maintain COVID protective measures while the national vaccination campaign continues to be rolled out and expanded.”
In the past seven months, 14 million people have been fully vaccinated, and 38 million have received a first dose of vaccine against the coronavirus COVID-19 in Pakistan. The Government-led campaign relies on vaccines procured via COVAX and through bilateral agreements.
More than one million cases of COVID-19 have been reported in the country so far and more than 25,000 people have succumbed to the virus.
“UNICEF thanks the Government of United States for its generous donation of vaccines to Pakistan through the COVAX facility. We look forward to more vaccines becoming available in the country as other COVAX partners share their doses of vaccines and help secure full funding for the global initiative and more vaccines. Worldwide solidarity is the only way to ensure equitable vaccine access for every person on Earth, so they can have access to the same protection against COVID-19, no matter where they live,” said Aida Girma, UNICEF Representative in Pakistan. “UNICEF commends the Government of Pakistan for its efficient roll-out of the vaccination campaign, which will now include children above the age of 17 and children above 12 who are immunocompromised, as announced by the National Command and Operation Center. We must also ensure that women get vaccinated, including pregnant and breastfeeding mothers, for whom COVID-19 vaccines are safe. UNICEF will continue to offer technical, logistical and communication support to the NCOC’s plan to vaccinate at least 70 million people by the end of this year.”
Strictly complying with COVID-19 safety measures remains crucial to curb the spread of the 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.
“The COVAX Facility and Gavi are proud to support this delivery of COVID vaccines and commend the Government of Pakistan for their continuing efforts to ensure that vulnerable populations in Pakistan are protected from COVID-19,” said Alexa Reynolds, Gavi Senior Country Manager for Pakistan.
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.