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Tuesday Mar 02 2021

PTI govt to vaccinate 70 million people against coronavirus by end of 2021: official

A health worker receives a dose of a coronavirus vaccine prepared by China National Pharmaceutical Group Co., Ltd. (Sinopharm) at a vaccination centre in Karachi, Pakistan, February 11, 2021. REUTERS/Akhtar Soomro/Files

  • PTI's Dr Nausheen Hamid says PTI govt aims to vaccinate 70 million people against coronavirus by end of 2021.
  • Notes that each Pakistani citizen has to play their role in responding to the challenges posed by coronavirus pandemic.
  • Underlines that efforts to raise mass awareness at every level were imperative to become adapted to the "new normal".

ISLAMABAD: The PTI-led government intends to vaccinate some 70 million people against the novel coronavirus by the end of 2021, Parliamentary Health Secretary Dr Nausheen Hamid said Tuesday.

Dr Hamid, the PTI lawmaker in the National Assembly, made the comments during a webinar titled "Life after Covid-19: Are we ready to opt for a new normal." The event was organised by the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI).

She said every Pakistani citizen would have to play their role to respond to the challenge posed by the coronavirus pandemic, which has so far killed close to 13,000 people in the country. Efforts to raise mass awareness at every level were imperative to become adapted to the so-called "new normal" as a nation.

Experts present in the webinar said the biggest challenge Pakistan faced after COVID-19 was to get adapted to the "new normal" to protect every individual from the pandemic.

Islamabad Deputy Commissioner Muhammed Hamza Shafqaat was of the view that people may adapt to the "new normal" only after they started following all standard operating procedures (SOPs) as a new way of life.

The government was unable to invade into private life to ensure that SOPs were being followed properly. Therefore, cooperation from the public was critical for the successful response to the pandemic instead of showing resistance to administrative measures, Shafqaat added.

SDPI Executive Director Dr Abid Qayyum Suleri remarked that there were multiple challenges, such as "maintaining balance [between] the lockdown and livelihood, online and face-to-face education, and availing health facilities".

Dr Suleri added that inequalities emerging inequalities after COVID-19 — such as access to connectivity, vaccination, and health facilities — needed to be redressed. 

Another panellist, public policy analyst Mosharraf Zaidi, underlined that it should be ensured that no one was left behind during all the efforts to respond to the challenge, including vaccination against the novel coronavirus.

The crisis could be turned into an opportunity in terms of improving Pakistan's infrastructure, he added.

Zaidi highlighted the fact that the cushion to support the most vulnerable communities may not be available in case of a third or fourth wave of the coronavirus pandemic.

It was crucial for all policies and measures to be inclusive and cover every segment of the society, he added.