Can't connect right now! retry
Monday Feb 08 2021

Sindh reports sweeping irregularities in dispensing China's Sinopharm vaccine against COVID-19

  • Wide-scale irregularities reported in administration of Sinopharm vaccine in Sindh 
  • On Saturday, there were media reports of former Sindh governor Mohammad Zubair's daughter and son-in-law getting the vaccine
  • According to NCOC guidelines, the vaccine cannot be given to anyone over 60 years or under 18 years

KARACHI: The Chinese Sinopharm vaccine is reportedly being given to people over 60 years of age, non-frontline health workers and other who don't qualify for it despite the NCOC instructing otherwise, sources were quoted as saying by The News Monday.

On Saturday, there were media reports of former Sindh governor Mohammad Zubair's daughter and son-in-law getting the vaccine.

The couple was given the vaccine on February 6 at the Adult Vaccination Center of Ojha campus of Dow University of Health Sciences by a deputy district officer of District East. 

Read more: Sindh to begin first phase of coronavirus vaccination drive from Feb 3

The former governor’s daughter is a niece of the head of National Command and Operation Center, Federal Minister Asad Umar. The PML-N leader has categorically denied any connection to the administration of vaccines to his daughter and son-in-law.

Deputy district officer suspended

The deputy district officer was later suspended.

"The services of Dr Aneela Qureshi [...] are hereby placed under suspension and she is directed to report at Health Department, Government of Sindh," read a notification issued by the Sindh government.

Read NCOC's instructions to the Sindh govt on COVID-19 vaccines

An inquiry committee was made, to be headed by Fayyaz Hussain Abbasi, Provincial Coordinator EOC, which will investigate violation of SOPs during the administering of vaccines at Dow university.

A report will be submitted within three working days.

NCOC guidelines on Sinopharm vaccine

NCOC has been getting complaints of irregularities in the administration of coronavirus vaccine by the Sindh government due to which many “influentials but unrelated people” have benefitted.

According to the complaints, several non frontline health workers, some influential people and their families were reportedly vaccinated in connivance with the officials of local health departments.

Read more: Sindh government to establish coronavirus vaccination point at Karachi Expo Centre

According to NCOC guidelines, the vaccine cannot be given to anyone over 60 years or under 18 years.

This guideline however is in stark contradiction to the global practice where primarily those over 60 years of age are being administered the coronavirus vaccines.

Sindh govt firmly told to ensure vaccines are only given to healthcare workers: Asad Umar

On Sunday, the NCOC chief said the Sindh government has been told to ensure that the coronavirus vaccines are only administered to healthcare workers.

"We have received complaints that the coronavirus vaccine is being given to close contacts in Karachi besides healthcare workers," said Umar.

He said that the NCOC team, under the supervision of Prime Minister Imran Khan's adviser on health Dr Faisal Sultan, held a meeting with the Sindh government representatives, where they were "firmly told to ensure that the vaccine is only given to healthcare workers".

Senior healthcare workers above the age of 60 are disappointment over the NCOC instructions. They argue that people over 60 years are being vaccinated on priority basis in the UAE and other countries.

Pakistan kicks off vaccination drive

Pakistan obtained the first 500,000 doses of the Sinopharm coronavirus vaccine as a gift from China on February 1, after which Prime Minister Imran Khan kicked off Pakistan's coronavirus vaccination drive the next day.

China has also confirmed that a second consignment of the vaccine, another half a million doses of the vaccine will be brought to Pakistan via a special flight of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) Air Force on Monday.

Sindh launched its vaccine drive on February 3.

According to Dr Nadeem Sheikh, the director of the directorate of health services in Karachi, there are 64,000 registered healthcare professionals in Karachi alone and there are 120 cubicles in 10 vaccination centres that have been made to inoculate the city's health workers.