Yesterday, 201 covid-19 patients died in the country in 24 hours, the highest tally so far. Troops were deployed in 16 major cities with high positivity rates to help in curbing the spread of the virus. The KP government imposed complete lockdown in Mardan city, where positivity rate had gone up to 40 per cent. There were reports of the government seriously meditating lockdowns in several other virus-hit cities.
The government’s appeals to citizens to follow coronavirus precautions have fallen on deaf ears, indicating a lack of public confidence in the administration. While there is a dire need to adhere to measures like wearing facemasks, frequently washing hands and maintaining social distance, herd immunity induced through mass vaccination is the final way out of the pandemic. It is here that the government has fared extremely badly.
The government failed to place orders for vaccines when these were available in the market. The federal government decided instead to wait for donations of vaccines from the WHO and China, putting the lives of the citizens at risk. Turkey with a population of 82 million decided to put timely orders for vaccines and got them and has administered close to 22 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine so far, which is around 12.8 percent of the country’s population. Pakistan on the other hand with a population of 216.6 million has so far administered only 2.1 million vaccines to less than one percent of its population. As of March 2021, an average of 0.2 doses had been administered for every 100 people in Pakistan, strikingly lower than the regional average for Asia which is 4.5 doses for every 100 people.
Lack of capacity in the government is accompanied by delays in taking decisions. As hospitals in India ran short of oxygen, the issue cropped up at NCOC also. Iran, which faces a bigger coronavirus threat than Pakistan and has banned export of oxygen, is being asked to provide oxygen to Pakistan. Talks are being held to divert oxygen currently consumed by local industry to hospitals, and to revive the oxygen production unit of the defunct PSM. There is no move to import oxygen when it is still available.