Pakistan vaccinated ten million individuals of eligible population: Asad Umar

Foreign Secretary lauds effort of national stakeholders in handling Covid-19

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ISLAMABAD- The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, under the framework of its Science Diplomacy Initiative, hosted a Coordination Meeting on International Cooperation and Partnerships in Vaccine Production. The meeting was co-chaired by Foreign Secretary Sohail Mahmood and Executive Director, National Institute of Health (NIH), Prof. Dr. Aamer Ikram. The meeting was attended by high-level representatives of the Ministry of National Health Services, Regulations, and Coordination; Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP); National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC); Ministry of Science and Technology; Ministry of Commerce; Ministry of Industries and Production; Ministry of Climate Change; Higher Education Commission (HEC), and research organizations from the public sector in Pakistan. Pakistan’s Permanent Representatives to the World Health Organization (WHO) and World Trade Organization (WTO) joined the meeting virtually.

Foreign Secretary Sohail Mahmood underscored that there was a need to turn the Covid-19 related challenges into opportunity. In this context, he stressed the importance of pursuing self-reliance in vaccines and reinforcing national efforts for strengthening health security through international partnerships and collaboration. The Foreign Secretary referred to various initiatives at the World Health Organization (WHO) and associated forums as well as the World Trade Organization (WTO) to support and facilitate developing countries’ access to vaccines. The Foreign Secretary lauded the efforts by the national stakeholders in handling the Covid-19 response and underlined the need for creating further synergies in building requisite vaccine infrastructure.

Executive Director, NIH presented a comprehensive overview of the existing work in the area of vaccines, including international partnerships, to facilitate local production and the challenges in this regard. Based on the existing research infrastructure, he noted, Pakistan can greatly benefit from commercialization-based collaborations with international partners. Furthermore, he stressed the need to strengthen regulatory compliance procedures as well to benefit adequately from international initiatives for vaccines.

Pakistan’s Permanent Representatives to the WHO Ambassador Khalil Hashmi, and WTO Dr. Mujtaba Piracha, updated the participants on various work streams at the WHO, including COVAX, and the potential benefits Pakistan can draw from them. Pakistan is also among the leading countries advocating patent waiver at the WTO for COVID-19 vaccines and more equitable access for developing countries.

The participants exchanged views on the challenges and opportunities for boosting local innovation efforts and benefiting from international collaboration. To this end, it was agreed to establish a Working Group, to be steered by Executive Director NIH, to develop a roadmap, with the Foreign Office facilitating outreach with international institutions and partners.

On the other hand, Federal Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives and Chairman National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) Asad Umar on Wednesday announced that the country has achieved landmark to successfully vaccinated ten million people with the Covid-19 vaccine.

Addressing a media conference after vaccinating the ten-million vaccinated individual of the total eligible population here at the NCOC, he said Pakistan has succeeded in vaccinating ten million individuals of the eligible population whereas over seven million individuals have been vaccinated with the Covid-19 vaccine so far.

Asad said, “It is propitious to achieve one million vaccination milestone but we have set a total target of 70 million people till December 2021. So, there is more room for enhancing our vaccination numbers.”

The NCOC chair noted that the positive aspect was that registration for vaccination was increasing. “Around 350,000 people are registering to get vaccinated on 1166 per day whereas as over 300,000 individuals are being vaccinated the first dose per day which is a promising trend,” he added.

The second dose, he said numbers being administered per day, was other than the above mentioned; however, there was still a need to further boost our efforts in ramping up vaccinations per day.

Asad Umar appealed to the entire nation to get them vaccinated as the decisions to lift restrictions on various sectors were subject to the pace of the national vaccination drive as a spike in vaccination would help the speedy revival of all closed sectors.

He noted that many sectors of the national economy were bearing the burden of Covid-19 lockdowns and facing serious impacts due to persistent closure.

“We have to protect the livelihoods of masses facing stress and threat of unemployment due to Covid and also ensure health security of the masses from the pandemic,” Asad said.

He thanked the Almighty that the measures taken during the third wave of the contagion were bearing fruits as the disease had undergone a persistent decline since Eid-ul-Fitr and its impact had been visible.

Despite all that, he said there were over 3,000 Coronavirus patients under treatment in critical care which was an alarming indicator, and demanded the masses to remain watchful of the situation and ensure their vaccination.

He also prayed for massive public participation in the national vaccination and said, “When Pakistanis as a nation decide to undertake any task with full zeal and firm will then no other nation can better achieve that goal than Pakistanis.”

Similarly, the way people had fought back the pandemic outbreak, the entire team (at the NCOC) worked relentlessly without any respite and public cooperation helped us avert the adverse impacts of the pandemic, the NCOC chair remarked.

“If the same spirit is replicated in ensuring faster vaccination in the entire region then it will help us achieve our desired goal to protect the people from unemployment and the deadly contagious disease which will help in running the national economy in a positive direction,” Asad Umar urged the masses while concluding his news conference and also thanked the entire nation.

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