Official refutes reports of Covid-19 vaccine shortage

ISLAMABAD: Parliamentary Secretary of National Health Services (NHS) Dr Nausheen Hamid on Thursday said that the government was closely monitoring the availability of coronavirus vaccine shots, assuring that there’s no truth in reports of vaccine shortage.

“There was ample stock of vaccine [available] and vaccination was continuing at centers as per schedule. But in some areas, due to rush of people, we faced a temporary shortage […] but addressed on priority basis,” she said.

Hamid said that the federal government was in the process to procure Sinopharm and CanSino jabs from China. Two batches of the vaccines, including 3 million doses of  CanSino and 4 million of Sinopharm will arrive by the end of April.

She said that the bulk of the vaccine will be formulated, sterilised and packaged in Pakistan.

In response to a question, Nausheen made it clear that there will be no “middleman deals” with regard to the purchase of Covid-19 vaccines, as the government was purchasing the drug on the basis of government-to-government deals.

She further said that the private sector and provinces have also been granted permission by the government to cater to the needs of people who could afford to purchase the vaccine.

She said that the Sindh government was involving the middlemen while purchasing the vaccine when Minister for Development and Planning Asad Umer advised them not to go that route as it would affect the price of the vaccine.

Hamid said that the federal government would not hold a monopoly on the import of vaccines, adding that provinces and the private sector were free to import vaccines subject to the approval of the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP).

She further said that the provincial government was using their own funds and purchasing their vaccines.

Hamid further asked the people to encourage those over 50 to register for the inoculation drive and reminded the people that the drive is ongoing for those who are 60 years or older.

Covid-19 vaccines are available free of cost to the people in government facilities, she added.

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