Pakistan receives first COVID vaccine cargo from China | Coronavirus pandemic Information
China has donated half a million doses of Sinopharm vaccine, the Pakistani health minister says.
Islamabad, Pakistan – Pakistan has received its first doses of the coronavirus vaccine, with China donating half a million doses of the Sinopharm vaccine to the country, the health minister says.
A Pakistani military plane carrying the shipment landed in the Pakistani capital of Islamabad early Monday, said Dr. Faisal Sultan.
“Praise be to Allah, the first batch of Sinopharm vaccine has arrived! I am grateful to China and everyone who made this possible, ”he said.
Video footage showed a forklift unloading boxes of the vaccine from a military transport aircraft.
In addition to Sinovac’s coronavac vaccine, Sinopharm, a state-owned Chinese company, has developed one of two major Chinese vaccines to be rolled out worldwide.
Phase 3 trials of the Chinese CanSino vaccine are currently underway in Pakistan, with emergency approval for Sinopharm, AstraZeneca and Sputnik V vaccines last month.
“It is currently among the top 10 vaccine candidates nearing the end of clinical trials on the WHO list,” the website said.
The Sinopharm shipment on Monday marks the first vaccines imported by 220 million people in the South Asian country, where more than 546,000 cases of the coronavirus have been recorded since the pandemic began.
According to official figures, at least 11,785 people have died from the virus in the past two weeks, with an average of 1,800 cases per day.
The first doses of the vaccine will be made available to more than 400,000 healthcare workers across the country, as per the government’s vaccine roll-out plan.
After that, the shots will be made available to citizens over 65 who are generally at a higher risk of death from the virus.
More vaccines will arrive
Pakistan is slated to receive another 1.1 million doses of the coronavirus vaccine from China by the end of this month, the country’s foreign minister said in January.
It was unclear whether these doses would be from the Sinopharm, Sinovac, or CanSino vaccines.
In an exclusive interview with Al Jazeera last month, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said China is also considering starting production of the CanSino vaccine in Pakistan if phase three studies prove successful.
In addition to the doses from China, Pakistan has secured 17 million doses of the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine through COVAX, a global initiative of the Gavi Vaccine Alliance, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), the World Health Organization, and others.
Up to 6.8 million doses of these vaccines are expected to arrive in Pakistan by the end of March, Pakistani Health Minister Sultan said on Saturday.