Vaccine issues 

Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed said on Sunday that Prime Minister Imran Khan himself was handling the matter of Saudi Arabia and some other countries in the Middle East not accepting the vaccination certificate of the Chinese-manufactured Sinopharm vaccine. The minister, who was speaking to the media in Islamabad, told reporters that the prime minister had informed the cabinet that he was in talks with leaders of the respective countries on the matter. Saudi Arabia is among the few countries that do not recognise vaccination certificates of Chinese vaccines despite the fact that the World Health Organisation has now registered at least two Chinese-manufactured vaccines — Sinopharm and Sinovac. According to media reports, the vaccines recommended by the Kingdom for use are Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Moderna and Johnson and Johnson.

Earlier this week, Federal Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar had announced that citizens intending to go for Haj this year, those working abroad on work visas issued by countries that did not recognise vaccination certificates of Chinese vaccines and students planning to go to educational institutions in such countries within a month would be given priority for the administration of Pfizer as its stock was limited. The minister had also warned that countries not accepting vaccination certificates of Chinese vaccines would turn out to be a problem for the entire world if a decision was not taken on the issue at the global level. “If every country makes it mandatory for visitors to be inoculated by their choice of vaccine [brands], the entire world would suffer,” he had said, adding that Chinese Covid-19 vaccines were the most exported brands in the world at present. Expressing similar views on Sunday, the interior minister asserted that “Sinopharm is a very good vaccine.” He further said that Pakistan fared better than other countries in the region in terms of vaccination and particularly compared the situation in Pakistan with that in India, where he said one would come across boards saying “no vaccination for seven days”.

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Sohail Ali Khan 

Islamabad 

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