Next Covid vaccination phase to begin in March: SAPM

SAPM Faisal says Pakistan will receive 2.8 million doses of the vaccine by March

ISLAMABAD: Special Assistant to the Prime Minister (SAPM) on Health Dr Faisal Sultan has said that the country would begin its next vaccination phase in March upon the arrival of the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine through the COVAX facility.

Addressing a press conference in Islamabad, he said: “According to our information, 2.8m doses will reach around March 2. This is very good news because we will be able to start the next phase [of the vaccination programme].”

The prime minister’s aide said that people above 65 years of age would be given the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine.

He said that the government had announced on February 15 that people above 65 years of age should start registering themselves for the vaccine.

It is pertinent here to mention that doctors and public health officials pleaded with the German government today to take up AstraZeneca vaccines against the coronavirus after muddled communication about the efficacy of the British-made jabs hit demand.

Despite a raging debate about a sluggish EU rollout of vaccines, German healthcare facilities have reported several hundred thousand AstraZeneca vials sitting unused and rampant no-shows at scheduled appointments.

Officials in Italy, Austria and Bulgaria were also starting to signal some public resistance to the British vaccine, and France Health Minister Oliver Veran got the jab live on television to drum up support.

“If you are given the choice between AstraZeneca now or another vaccine in a few months, you should definitely take AstraZeneca now,” implored Carsten Watzl, general secretary of the German Society for Immunology.

During the above-mentioned presser, the SAPM said that a 52,000 frontline healthcare workers have been vaccinated so far. However, it emerged that a total of 200 out of 2500 healthcare providers have been vaccinated Covid vaccination in a facility centre in Sukkur on Thursday, according to Medical Superintendent (MS) Ghulam Muhammad

Mahar Medical College Hospital’s Dr Tasleem Akhtar Khamisani also confirmed that a total of 200 healthcare providers, including the staff from the Khairpur district hospital, Sukkur hospital and the teaching hospital were vaccinated on day two.

He said that the majority of these doctors were infected while they performed their duties in the Quarantine Center, established by Sindh Government in Sukkur.

Moreover, the United States Government, through the US Agency for International Development (USAID), inaugurated a state-of-the-art command and control centre for the Sindh Health Department to respond to Covid-19 cases across the province.

Sindh Minister for Health and Population Welfare Dr Azra Fazal Pechuho and the Sindh and Balochistan USAID Director James Parys participated in the semi-virtual ceremony, said a statement on Thursday.

USAID partnered with Pakistan’s federal and provincial health department to establish these control centres at health secretariats across four provinces and two regions to reinforce Pakistan’s response to Covid-19 and other infectious diseases.

The Sindh Command and Control Centre will lead to high-level monitoring and decision making on the pandemic at present, as well as other public health threats in the future.

“The Command and Control Centre will provide strategic and policy level guidance to help in the prevention, detection and notification of infectious diseases,” said James Parys.

He said: “Our collaboration on the response to Covid-19 builds upon the legacy of partnership and our shared goal to save lives through the delivery of basic, essential health services in the province.

The national tally on Thursday of total active cases was recorded at 24,176 with 1,272 more people tested positive for the deadly virus and 2,052 people recovered from the disease during the last 24 hours.

52 coronavirus patients have died during past 24 hours, 48 of them were under treatment in hospital and four in their respective quarantines and homes on Wednesday, according to the latest update issued by the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC).

During the last 24 hours, most of the deaths had occurred in Punjab followed by Sindh.
The maximum ventilators were occupied in four major areas including Multan 21 per cent, Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) 32 per cent, Peshawar 26 per cent and Lahore 36 per cent.

The maximum oxygen beds was also occupied in Four major areas of Gujrat 61 per cent, Peshawar 40 per cent, Multan 32 per cent, and Lahore 23 per cent.

Around 240 ventilators were occupied elsewhere in the country while no affected person was on a ventilator in Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK), Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) and Balochistan.

Some 36,543 tests were conducted across the country on Wednesday, including 10,691 in Sindh, 12,269 in Punjab, 7,175 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), 4,783 in ICT, 596 in Balochistan, 355 in GB, and 674 in AJK.

Around 530,597 people have recovered from the disease so far across Pakistan making it a significant count with over 90 per cent recovery ratio of the affected patients.

Since the pandemic outbreak, a total of 567,261 cases were detected that also included the perished, recovered and under treatment Covid-19 patients so far, including AJK 9,629, Balochistan 18,958, GB 4,945, ICT 43,029, KP 70,306, Punjab 165,716 and Sindh 254,678.

About 12,488 deaths were recorded in the country since the eruption of the contagion. Around 5,138 perished in Sindh among 24 of them died during the past 24 hours. 22 of them died in the hospital and two out of the hospital.

5,114 in Punjab had died with 30 deaths in past 24 hours. 29 of them died in the hospital and one out of the hospital on Tuesday. 2,015 in KP, where eight of them died in hospital on Wednesday, 487 in ICT among one of them in the hospital on Wednesday, 199 in Balochistan, 102 in GB and 284 in AJK succumbed to the deadly virus.

A total of 8,567,761 coronavirus tests have been conducted so far, while 631 hospitals are equipped with Covid-19 facilities. Some 2,111 coronavirus patients were admitted in hospitals across the country.

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