by Fatima Javed
ISLAMABAD, Feb.1 (China Economic Net) – The first Covid-19 tranche of the Sinopharm vaccine arrived in Islamabad on Monday today by Pakistan Air Force (PAF) special plane. Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi received the free-of-cost 500,000 doses of Covid-19 vaccine at the Noor Khan Airbase.
The Chinese Ambassador to Pakistan Nong Rong and Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Health Dr.Faisal Sultan were present at the occasion. Speaking at the ceremony, Nong Rong announced that Pakistan is the first country in the world to receive the Chinese government donated vaccine.
“It is not only the vaccine to the people needed in Pakistan but more importantly a new manifestation to our iron brotherhood. President Xi Jinping has repeatedly said that the Chinese COVID-19 vaccines, once developed and put into use, will be global public goods,” Nong said.
He said that “China has honored its commitment. Keeping the huge global need for vaccine in mind, China has lived to its best to offer assistance and support. Pakistan, as our closest friend, is the priority of our cooperation. I would like to appreciate the Pakistani government for its facilitation and cooperation in the approval of the Emergency Use Authorization for Sinopharm’s vaccine and the phase III trial with the CanSino company of China.”
“We expect more cooperation to follow and more people can benefit from it. China is ready to contribute to Pakistan’s pandemic prevention drive, economic recovery and social development. We are committed to the building of China-Pakistan Community of Shared Future”, he further added.
Talking to China Economic Net, the Chinese ambassador assured that the Sinopharm vaccine has proven effective and safe. Its license is issued not only to China and Pakistan but also to many other countries.
Foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi in his speech during the ceremony thanked the Chinese government on behalf of Prime Minister Imran Khan for the help and support they provided in the time of need.
He said that “the plan is to, first of all, inoculate the frontline health care workers, because they should be protected. And then it moves to the rest sections of the society. We will assess it in February. We will be requiring around 1.1 million more doses and we will be in touch with the Chinese government to send the next installment soon”.
It is to be noted that the first batch that arrived in Pakistan is a “grant assistance” for which the country would not have to pay anything. This is a hand of goodwill and friendship that China has extended towards Pakistan.
According to the NCOC, all necessary measures have been put in place for vaccine storage in Islamabad and the move of vaccines to various federating units particularly to Sindh and Baluchistan through the air.
The NCOC has already released details of Pakistan’s vaccination plan for Covid-19. A vaccine nerve center has been established at NCOC with vaccine administration/coordination centers/Adult Vaccination Centers provincial and district level.
The plan aims to vaccinate people under an integrated digital system following the best international practices, according to the NCOC. “Human involvement is limited to ensure transparency,” it added.
Pakistan has so far approved two vaccines for emergency use, the other being the Oxford-AstraZeneca jab.