Planning minister says country in talks with Chinese manufacturers for 7 million more doses
Pakistan is set to receive the first batch of purchased vaccines by the end of March, Planning Minister Asad Umar has told the Reuters news agency.
“We have purchased one million and 60,000 doses of Sinopharm and CanSino vaccines [from China],” he said. “We will be receiving the consignment before the end of March.” According to the minister, who also heads the National Command and Operation Center overseeing Pakistan’s coronavirus strategy, the government is in further talks with both Sinopharm and CanSino to secure an additional seven million doses.
Separately, according to a statement issued by the Foreign Office, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi contacted Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi via telephone and assured him that Islamabad had devised an elaborate plan for nationwide vaccinations as part of its efforts to combat the pandemic. “To reinforce Pakistan’s capacity to effectively and expeditiously fight the pandemic, Qureshi discussed with his Chinese counterpart supply of COVID-19 vaccine from China to Pakistan during March-April,” it added.
Wang Yi reassured Qureshi that China would continue to support Pakistan in its fight against the coronavirus pandemic and accord “highest priority” to the requirements of its time-tested friend.
Qureshi also thanked Beijing for its earlier donation of 1.5 million of vaccines, noting they had played a “pivotal role” protecting human lives. He thanked Wang for Premier Li Keqiang’s thoughtful message wishing Prime Minister Imran Khan speedy recovery from COVID-19. Both leaders agreed to maintain high-level exchanges.
Pakistan commenced its vaccination drive by targeting frontline healthcare workers. It has since expanded the program to include citizens over 60. Authorities maintain that the country will have sufficient supplies—through donations and procurement—to vaccinate its entire eligible population free-of-cost by the end of the year.