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Pakistani Doctors Urge WHO to Resolve Inconsistent Vaccine Approvals

by Newsweek Pakistan

Joe Raedle-Getty Images North America—AFP

In letter, doctors lament that international travel and trade will suffer if countries refuse to accept as prerequisite all currently available vaccines

Doctors in Pakistan have urged the World Health Organization (WHO) to intervene and resolve the inconsistent approvals of coronavirus vaccines by the global community, noting this will increase difficulties for people needing to travel abroad in the coming months.

Individual countries have, in recent months, approved specific vaccines, declaring their administration mandatory for all incoming visitors. However, due to vaccine shortages, some countries are utilizing inoculations that are not being accepted by border control authorities, raising concerns about the viability of international travel.

In a letter addressed to WHO Director General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the Pakistan Medical Association (PMA) highlighted that different countries were using different types of vaccines. “Even knowing the fact, some countries have approved specific brands [as] mandatory for incoming visitors,” it said, noting that this discriminatory policy would have a devastating impact on international travel and trade.

“Keeping in view the above facts we request WHO to convince such countries to accept all vaccine brands approved by other countries for their citizens, otherwise it will create problems for people who wish to go abroad for employment, business, education, medical treatment and for other purposes,” the PMA letter emphasized.

Thus far, WHO has granted emergency-use approval to the Pfizer-BioNTech, AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson, Moderna, and Sinopharm vaccines. It has noted that these vaccines are safe and effective, and has allowed their availability through the COVAX regime, a global program aimed at providing vaccines for developing nations through donations by the world’s richest countries.

Despite this, some countries are refusing to accept inoculations of Chinese-manufactured vaccines, including Sinopharm, raising concerns about their uptake in countries that are most at risk of uncontrolled spread of the pandemic.

Pakistan on Sunday crossed the 5 million mark for total doses of vaccines administered. According to the National Command and Operation Center (NCOC), 1,286,429 people are now fully vaccinated, while 2,857,746 are partially inoculated. The majority of vaccinations in the country are Chinese-manufactured, while AstraZeneca is being offered to citizens over 40 through the COVAX regime.

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