Tuesday Feb 09 2021

Sindh plans to buy 20m doses of coronavirus vaccine directly from China

  • Sindh to procure 20 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine directly from China
  • Provincial government in contact with federal government to get approval, says Sindh health minister
  • Right now, only frontline healthcare workers are being vaccinated with China's Sinopharm vaccine

The Sindh government says it will purchase 20 million doses of the coronavirus vaccine directly from China for its adult population. 

The government is already in touch with the Centre for approvals, Sindh Health Minister Dr Azra Pechuho said Monday.

She was speaking after a meeting with Chinese Consul-General Li Bijian at the Chinese Consulate-General in Karachi with Sindh Health Secretary Kazim Jatoi and other officials.

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

News of the province getting more vaccines comes a day after media reports that the Chinese Sinopharm vaccine is 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 in Sindh.

Dr Pechuho said they had requested the Chinese consul-general for 20 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.

The chinese consul-general in Karachi offered his complete support to the Sindh government, saying that he would talk to his government for the transfer of health technology to Sindh.

Right now, frontline healthcare workers are being vaccinated with China's Sinopharm vaccine. The doses available to the province are, however, limited.

Dr Pechuho says more doses are needed to save the lives of people.

Sindh to send doctors to China for training

She said China, its government and people are managing coronavirus in Pakistan. 

The health minister said they had requested the Chinese authorities to assist Pakistan, especially the Sindh government, in the provision of health services, improving the health sector and transferring technology in the field of medicine.

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

Dr Pechuho said that the government had invited the Chinese authorities to establish health facilities in Sindh.

Sindh also plans to send doctors and paramedics from Sindh to China for training, Dr Pechuho said, hoping that cooperation between Pakistan and China in the field of health and medical sectors would grow.

Sindh reports major irregularities in vaccine administration

On Saturday, there were media reports of former Sindh governor Mohammad Zubair's daughter and son-in-law getting the Chinese 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 NCOC's instructions to the Sindh govt on COVID-19 vaccines

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.

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.

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.

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.

Sindh launched its vaccine drive on February 3.