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Pakistan receives 500,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses from China, doubling available supply

Pakistan receives 500,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses from China, doubling available supply

FILE PHOTO: A woman receives the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, as the government started vaccination for the general public, starting with elderly people, at a vaccination center in Karachi, Pakistan on Mar 10, 2021. (Photo: REUTERS/Akhtar Soomro)

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Wednesday (Mar 17) received a Chinese donation of 500,000 doses of Sinopharm vaccine, bringing the country's total supply to 1 million shots, Health Minister Faisal Sultan said.

The South Asian nation of 220 million people launched COVID-19 vaccinations for the public on Mar 10, starting with older people. Health workers started receiving shots in early February.

"These 500,000 doses will ensure smooth continuation of our vaccine drive, currently under way for senior citizens," Sultan said in a tweet.

Sinopharm, the only vaccine currently available in the country, requires two doses.

READ: Pakistan military airlifts first COVID-19 vaccine consignment from China

The virus infections have sharply increased lately in the overwhelmingly Muslim nation that has had a history of refusing vaccination.

The percentage of COVID tests coming back positive across the country has touched 6.26 per cent and crossed 11 per cent in Punjab, the largest province.

Pakistan has recorded 612,315 coronavirus cases and 13,656 deaths, with 2,351 infections and 61 deaths reported in the last 24 hours.

The country has not secured any vaccine from drug manufacturers and is depending on the GAVI/WHO COVAX initiative for poorer nations and the donations.

Pakistan is expecting to get GAVI's first batch of 2.8 million doses of AstraZeneca sometime later this month, officials said.

Besides Sinopharm and AstraZeneca, Pakistan has approved Russia's Sputnik and China's CanSino Biologics' (CanSinoBIO) vaccines for emergency use.

READ: Pakistan approves China's Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use

READ: Pakistan lab expects doses of Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine for commercial sale in a week

CanSinoBIO has released interim efficacy results from a multi-country trial, which included Pakistan, showing 65.7 per cent efficacy in preventing symptomatic coronavirus cases and a 90.98 per cent success rate in stopping severe infections.

In the Pakistani subset, efficacy of the CanSinoBIO vaccine at preventing symptomatic cases was 74.8 per cent and 100 per cent at preventing severe disease.

Authorities last week reversed a decision to allow large indoor gatherings like cinemas, theatres and marriage halls in Pakistan after opening up almost all sectors of society.

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Source: Reuters/ga

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