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The coronavirus vaccine does not mean the pandemic has vanished

After the arrival of the third wave of the coronavirus pandemic in Pakistan, things have worsened to a larger extent. Even the vaccines for covid-19 have started to be administered but the severity of the pandemic is not decreaseing and the bad impacts of the coronavirus are rampantly multiplying. The positivity rate has become immense and even surpassed 11 percent. The biggest problem is the non-availability of anti-coronavirus vaccine. Firstly, the vaccine bought by the state is just one million doses and initially, Pakistan was using only those vaccine doses which were provided as donation, which were only 1.5 million doses. Moreover, there is no indigenously produced vaccine, unlike that made by Serum Institute of India(SII,) and Pakistan, with more than 700 pharmaceutical companies, is still lagging behind in the race. The facilities are not there for the process of production of any type of vaccine at all. The issue of capacity building is there. Things have not been attended in this regard from the beginning. The process of vaccine preparation is very complex, requiring research worth millions of dollars. The Health budget Of 2020-2021 is only Rs 25.50 billion which is actually nothing at all. However, the education budget of 2020-2021 is Rs 83.36 billion and for research and other modern fields no extra money which has been allocated. So, how things can work in such conditions!

The mask is the real protector and all myths against its being worn must be shattered now. The important thing is that the vaccine does not produce its effects immediately but it takes time to be effective. The pandemic can be controlled only by opting the important precautionary measures until the vaccination

When a glance is made at global statistics on vaccinating people, so figures are totally opposite to Pakistan’s. The USA has vaccinated more than 15 percent of her total population and more than 30 percent of its population has received its first dose. The USA does have the benefit of self-sufficiency.

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Only six countries are producing anti-corona vaccines in the whole world. China is producing 17 types of vaccine. India is producing 14 types of vaccines and is also exporting these vaccines. Pakistan had created National Institute of Health in 1965 even before India for the research for different types of diseases and production of vaccines, but till today not a single vaccine has been produced by this institute. Even Polio vaccine is imported from outside of Pakistan. This is the tragedy which is not being addressed from the beginning. Additionally, a federal minister allegedly vaccinated his whole family neglecting and violating the protocols and rules of vaccination for age-specific persons and such trends are common in the financially strong strata of society.

The British mutant variant of the coronavirus entered Pakistan a few months ago, which is the actual cause of the third wave. It is most dangerous and it also showed its best tricks regarding the severity of the pandemic. The positivity rate is also astonishing. However, the efforts for getting sufficient vaccine for vaccination of the whole population seemed very low in the context of Pakistan. Only one agreement with China was made until now pragmatically, which actually became fruitful with the advent of one million vaccine doses other than donations. Whereas in our neighbours, there are many agreements on the government level, especially in Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.

A private firm bought Russian Sputnik V covid-19 Vaccine in Pakistan but that also stuck initially, although the Sindh High Court had allowed its commercial sale, but DRAP (Drug Regulatory Authority Of Pakistan) which is one of the most inefficient and criminally negligent institutions, firstly did nothing to lower the price of the vaccine and become silent on high-priced commercial sale of the vaccine which is more than 160 percent even more than the international price, which is only $10, but the mentioned Russian vaccine is too expensive on the proposed rate for commercial sale. Additionally, DRAP tried to facilitate its sale but due to some uproar DRAP was fearing from NAB (National Accountability Bureau) because NAB cast its eye upon DRAP regarding the issue.

Furthermore, Transparency International had also objected to the high price of the vaccine in Pakistan and wrote a letter to Pakistan about the cause of this high price, linking it with massive corruption. Even the Sindh High Court was displeased by the procrastination in the release of this consignment of vaccine doses. During all this mess, only the people of Pakistan are suffering severely from the pandemic.

According to the 2018 Pharma law, which was passed during the era of former Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar, whenever a new medicine or vaccine comes to Pakistan, which has no determined price, the importer can take 45 percent of the landing price. People are dying of the pandemic but release of vaccine doses was stuck despite Sindh High Court intervention. Moreover, DRAP cannot allow a medicine or vaccine to sell at a price more than 30 percent that prevailing in the neighbouring countries of Pakistan.

Sixty in Nepal, 40 in Sri Lanka, 35 in India, 30 in Bangladesh and 1 in Pakistan out of every thousand people have been vaccinated. The total vaccinated people in Pakistan until now is not even one million. However, India has vaccinated 55 million of its people. Recently, Pakistan reported the highest number of covid-19 cases since June. According to the NCOC, people between 20 to 40 and 60 to 70 years of age are most vulnerable to the pandemic. But, people in Pakistan are still not paying heed to how dangerous the pandemic can be. People are unable to follow coronavirus SOPs and the elite sections of society are no different in this respect. Corona Virus is spreading like wildfire and the red line has also been crossed. The good news is that Pakistan, for the very first time, participated in phase-3 clinical trials of a vaccine.

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The mask is the real protector and all myths against its being worn must be shattered now. The important thing is that the vaccine does not produce its effects immediately but it takes time to be effective. The pandemic can be controlled only by opting the important precautionary measures until the vaccination.

Dr Zeeshan Khanhttp://www.pakistantodya.om.pk
The writer can be reached @DrZeeshanKhanA1 and [email protected]

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