Pakistan scrambles to speed up vaccination amid surge in COVID-19 cases
Islamabad, Apr 11: Pakistani authorities have scrambled to speed up vaccination and firm up non-pharmaceutical interventions to contain the spread of the coronavirus, amid a surge in the number of cases.
The country on Sunday recorded 5,050 new COVID-19 cases, taking the national infection tally to 721,018. The death toll jumped to 15,443 in the last 24 hours.
The National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC), the national apex body to combat the coronavirus, in a meeting on Saturday decided to extend the existing non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) such as markets closure and restrictions on transport till Monday, Dawn newspaper reported.
Non-pharmaceutical Interventions (NPIs) are actions, apart from getting vaccinated and taking medicine, that people and communities can take to help slow the spread of illnesses.
The forum discussed vaccination plans during the upcoming holy month of Ramzan.
The participants in the meeting were told that sufficient quantities of vaccine were scheduled to arrive after the mid of April.
The NCOC decided that the vaccination centres will remain open during Ramzan.
An official of the Ministry of National Health Services, requesting not to be named, told Dawn that Pakistan would get around three million doses of China''s Cansino Bio vaccine after mid-April.
"During the visit of Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, this week, [procurement of] Russian vaccine was also discussed," he said.
Covid Vaccine Global Access (COVAX), an international initiative aimed at equitable access to vaccines, was to supply around 17 million doses of AstraZeneca vaccine by end of March.
However, COVAX later told the government that the vaccine would be supplied by June 30.
The vaccination drive in the country began on February 2 but it remains slow due to vaccine availability issues.