Getting THE Vaccine

At last covid-19 is being brought under control

The Wait is Over! The Good News with substance has landed in Pakistan. I am talking about the much awaited COVID-19 vaccine. The first batch of Sinopharm vaccine has arrived. Pakistan is Grateful to China and everyone who made this happen. The NCOC (National Command And Operation Centre) and the provinces played an instrumental role in tackling covid-19. Additionally, the nation salutes the frontline healthcare workers for their efforts. They’ll be the first to get vaccinated as the lot has been dedicated to the frontline warriors.

It is actually a moment of immense pleasure to share that in addition to the 500,000 doses of Sinopharm, almost 17 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, approved for use in Pakistan by the Drug Regulatory Authority Of Pakistan (DRAP), have been secured by Pakistan, out of which 7 million doses to be made available in first quarter and the rest within the second quarter of 2021. The vaccine would be available for the public to be administered voluntarily under the National Immunization management system.

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However, Pakistan’s vaccine drive started on Tuesday, 2 February, when a vaccine was administered to a doctor in the presence of Prime Minister Imran Khan, beginning with frontline healthcare workers. Basically, the process of vaccination consists of two doses which are administered about fortnightly or with a gap of 21 days. I do recommend getting it on the arm that you don’t use that much, because after a few hours pain or swelling may start or an adverse effect might be produced. The symptoms of adverse events may also include dizziness, vomiting or severe allergic reactions but these symptoms occur rarely. The vaccine has been shown to have an efficacy of approximately 90 percent in protecting against covid-19, starting 14 days after the first dose. Healthcare professionals can register themselves for vaccine administration by calling the Helpline 1166.

The leadership of federating units and provinces along with healthcare professionals and workers did wonders without any doubt, and with constant reviewing strategies, have set splendid examples of empathy and professionalism. Pakistan has been fully prepared for this undertaking and also united in this mission. Pakistan’s coordinated efforts have brought her a long way.

Though there are many questions and concerns regarding covid-19 Vaccine. The foremost concern or question is whether it will be free or people will have to pay for it. The answer is simple and clear that the Government will provide covid-19 vaccine to the public free of cost. The aim is to vaccinate about 70 percent of the eligible population in 2021 out of 220 million people, to develop herd immunity, and frontline healthcare workers are entitled to the first batch of doses. The covid-19 vaccine would be administered to adults aged 18 years or more only, which is about 100 million people in Pakistan. But after being vaccinated, the observance of covid-19 SOPs cannot be ignored because the vaccine is only a protection against pandemic, and though it reduces the chances of infection the danger still exists.

Covid-19 in Pakistan is down but not out and it can spread again if we abandon caution and care. So, please follow SOPs- especially in indoor and crowded situations to protect ourselves and our country.

The positivity percentage is still more than three percent. This number tells an unmistakable story. The mortality rate is still disturbing. Pakistan is experiencing the second wave of covid-19 which can firstly, put lives at risk, secondly, put many livelihoods at risk and thirdly, put pressure on our health system.

There are certain measures which must be adopted, including firstly, wearing a mask (or cloth covering) in public places especially in tight and crowded spaces. Secondly, avoiding large gatherings and crowds. Thirdly, maintaining about six feet distance from others. Fourthly, washing your hands at least for 20 seconds.

If people don’t adopt these measures, they will have to increase restrictions to slow transmission. Moreover, until and unless, you don’t get vaccinated. The mask is the vaccine and it is the shield for your protection against the coronavirus.

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Furthermore, Universal Health Cover (via essential health services) is an investment in people and it leads to sustainable economic growth for all. Pakistan has become the first country to develop and endorse such a plan which will lead to healthcare for all.

In the middle of January, COVID positivity was extremely high in Muzaffarabad in Azad Kashmir, remains high in Karachi, and was rising in Lahore and Islamabad. It was time for all of us to take COVID SOP’s seriously again and it was tried to make decisions in accordance with  professionals’ advice. Otherwise, unfortunately we might have had to take restrictive actions which would have had negative effects on people’s livelihoods.

Albeit before this, the national positivity rate of covid-19 Cases was 2.37 percent at the end of December, 2020. At the start of January, there was the highest positivity rate in more than 50 days. The last time this level was seen was on 23 August 2020. In the first four days of this first week of January, the average number of covid-19 deaths was 11 per day, the highest since week of 10 August. These were unmistakable signs that the coronavirus wasa getting worse.

Now, educational institutions are open again. Please don’t forget basic protective steps including masks, reduced density in classes, and hand hygiene. All such steps must be followed by parents, school administrators, teachers, students─ all together.

The Government of Pakistan has been using indigenously developed state-of-the-art Artificial Intelligence (AI) solutions. AI experts assisted NCOC and Pakistan Army conduct video-based risk detection, to measure covid-19 risk at shops and cattle markets.

mask adherence, social distancing, gender detection, have been identified along with 10 other variables used for area-based risk ratings to assist district authorities strengthen their SOP implementation and adopt a localized strategy to prevent covid-19 spread.

A few days back, World Health Organization (WHO) President Dr. Tedros Adhanom interacted with Prime Minister Imran Khan, about the covid-19 situation in Pakistan and globally. The WHO expressed feelings of satisfaction to see that cases in Pakistan have been in decline since early June and appreciated its strong surveillance efforts to fight the pandemic.

Covid-19 in Pakistan is down but not out and it can spread again if we abandon caution and care. So, please follow SOPs- especially in indoor and crowded situations to protect ourselves and our country.

Dr Zeeshan Khan
The writer can be reached @DrZeeshanKhanA1 and [email protected]


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