Pakistan will receive 45 million doses of the coronavirus vaccine manufactured by India through the United Nations-backed Covax initiative.
Pakistan would receive its first batch of AstraZeneca jabs, manufactured by the Serum Institute of India under the name Covishield, by mid-March and the rest of it by June, the National Health Service (NHS) Secretary Amir Ashraf Khawaja said on Thursday.
Pakistan has reportedly approved four vaccine candidates, including two from China. The vaccines that have been approved are Sinophram (China), Oxford-AstraZeneca (UK), Sputnik-V (Russia) and Cansino Bio (China).
The country is mostly relying on free vaccine doses sent by China and the Covax initiative which aims to support several low and middle-income countries by providing free vaccines, to immunise at least 70 per cent of its 220 million population.
The shipment would not be sent directly from India. Pakistan would receive the consignment through the Covax initiative of the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (Gavi).
India, which makes 60 per cent of the global vaccines, has been actively supplying Covid vaccines to its neighbours, in what is being described as “vaccine diplomacy” and prime minister Narendra Modi’s commitment to vaccine equity.
As many as 65 countries have received the doses under three categories: grant (free of cost), commercial sales and under Covax.
However, neighbouring countries and arch-rival Pakistan and China were not the recipients amid fraught relations. Indian foreign ministry replied to the questions over it by saying that they have not received any “request for the supply of Indian made vaccines to Pakistan”.
China has already sent 500,000 doses of the vaccine to Pakistan and another consignment would be sent soon, reported Dawn.
Pakistan has vaccinated 27.5million people till now, including frontline workers and senior citizens, Mr Khawaja told reporters.
Out of total of 45 million doses, 16 million doses of India-made AstraZeneca would be received by Pakistan till June this year, enough to inoculate 20 per cent of the population.
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