Pakistan’s planning minister warns that mortality rates among younger demographics is on the rise
Endeavoring to explain Pakistan’s coronavirus vaccination strategy on Tuesday, Planning Minister Asad Umar stressed that it was designed to ensure the maximum number of the most vulnerable groups were given priority for the inoculations.
“Reason why we are opening vaccination based on age in descending order is due to finite availability of vaccines globally, as well as vaccination capacity in the country,” he said in a posting on Twitter. “Both supply of vaccines and vaccination capacity are continuously increasing with concerted efforts,” he said, but noted that until capacity and supply were on track to cater to the entire population the inoculations must focus on society’s most vulnerable groups.
“It is vital that vaccination is concentrated on the most vulnerable segments of population. The risk of mortality due to COVID rises sharply with age,” he warned, noting that the same pattern had been witnessed in Pakistan, where “the case fatality rate based on cumulative data” has shown strong linkages between age and deaths caused by COVID-19.
“Mortality percentage, which has been less than 1 percent for people under 40, rises to 1.8 percent for [people aged] 41-50; 3.8 percent for 51-60; 7.2 percent for 61-70; 11.1 percent for 71-80; and over 15 percent for those above 80,” he said. On average, 2.2 percent of all confirmed cases of coronavirus in Pakistan have resulted in fatalities.
According to Umar, who also heads the National Command and Operation Center overseeing the national response to the pandemic, despite only 7 percent of Pakistan’s population being over 60, around 53 percent of all COVID deaths in the country have been in this age bracket. “Conversely 77 percent of Pakistan’s population is below the age of 40 and only 9 percent of total COVID deaths in Pakistan have been in this age bracket,” he added.
Pakistan is currently in the midst of a third wave of the pandemic, with authorities enforcing a “Stay Home, Stay Safe” campaign nationwide from May 8-16 in a bid to curb the spread of the coronavirus. There have been mounting calls for the government to expedite its vaccination strategy to ensure the majority is protected from severe cases of the disease, but authorities have stressed that due to global supply issues, the government’s procurement is limited. Last week, Sindh Health Minister Dr. Azra Pechuho announced that the province would launch walk-in vaccinations for all citizens over-18—the first in the country—though there is no information on whether there are sufficient vaccines and infrastructure to ensure this.