ISLAMABAD: Because the number of casualties has crossed 8,000, and the Chinese Covid-19 vaccine, which is being used for clinical trials in Pakistan, may not be eligible for the next few months, the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) finalised its guidelines for alternate channel vaccine procurement early on Monday.
The suggestions will be forwarded for consideration before the federal meeting on Tuesday (today).
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In addition, a full lockdown was enforced until December 6 in Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) and 5,082 smart lockdowns are in effect throughout the country.
NCOC today finalised its Covid vaccine acquisition guidelines. Tomorrow, these will be submitted to the cabinet for ratification. “The recommendations that were discussed and finalised today were developed by the task force of experts headed by SAPM Health Dr Faisal Sultan,” Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar tweeted.
For the past four months, a senior official at the Ministry of National Health Services (NHS), seeking anonymity, said that multiple alternatives had been explored. However, sadly, due to numerous factors such as side effects of the vaccinations, which vaccination would be available sooner, etc., any time process has been derailed, etc. So at the same time various choices were considered and checked,’ he said.
“As we speak at least two vaccines are scheduled to be reported, anywhere in the world, in December. To get the vaccine at the earliest, we have to make preparations. In addition, it has been agreed that the vaccine will be provided on a priority basis to healthcare staff, senior citizens and persons suffering from chronic illnesses such as diabetes, cancer, etc.
In answer to an inquiry, the official said that the Pfizer vaccine’s shelf price was $20 each and each person would be given two shots of the vaccine. He said the vaccine produced by Astrazeneca would be available for $4 per doze, so one person would need $8 to vaccinate.
“However the shelf price of the vaccine will be exchanged with firms. The price depends on the sum we want and the stock available. I assume that if we offer order at the earliest or if we let others buy first and stand at the back of the queue, the price can be reduced,’ he added.
It should be noted that on Nov 17, Prime Minister Imran Khan accepted an allowance of $100 million and made an advance payment for the earliest procurement of the vaccine.
While speaking to Dawn, Vice Chancellor of the University of Health Sciences Prof. Dr. Javed Akram said that over 7,000 volunteers had received a Chinese vaccine during a clinical trial in Pakistan, but it could take a few months for the trial to be finished as the second shot of the vaccine had to be given to those volunteers.
The manufacturing of vaccines in Pakistan is not feasible because there is a shortage of biotechnology plants in the region. I assume it through take about six months and a year to have the Chinese vaccine. When we have the vaccine, it can be given to certain individuals subjected to it such as hospital employees, senior citizens, law enforcement department officers, etc.
Over 2m people under lockdowns
A NCOC meeting was told that until December 6 there was a complete lockdown in AJK and 5,082 smart lockdowns were in effect across the nation-1,459 in Punjab, 206 in Sindh, 182 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 3205 in Islamabad Capital Territory and 30 in Gilgit-Baltistan-because of which 2,058,746 persons were locked down.
The national average percentage of positive results was 8.53 per cent. In Mirpur, the highest proportion was 27.75pc, followed by 23.44pc in Muzaffarabad and 18.21pc in Hyderabad. The AJK positivity ratio was 21.3pc, Balochistan 11.95pc, GB 3.43pc, Islamabad 6.62pc, KP 5.57pc, Punjab 4.84pc and Sindh 14.04pc.
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There were as many as 2,046 Covid-19 patients in critical care throughout the nation and the figure is growing.
2,839 individuals tested positive for Covid-19 and 40 individuals lost their lives in a single day the NCOC was told. Total active cases crossed 48,576 and 300 ventilators were occupied on Monday out of 1,757 ventilators assigned to Covid-19 patients. So far, the number of deaths has reached 8,025.
Meanwhile, after testing positive for Covid-19, the general secretary of the Pakistan Medical Association, Dr Qaisar Sajjad, went into exile. Talking to Dawn, he said that people infected with the virus could rest and do no exercise in the room, as it could have dramatic health consequences. He recommended that patients drink lots of water and consume nuts and dried fruit to improve their level of immunity.