Thursday May 06, 2021
KARACHI: The first batch of 1.238 million doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine, codenamed AZD1222, will be reaching Pakistan via COVAX on May 8.
The consignment will be received this Saturday at the Islamabad International Airport, The News confirmed Thursday, citing a federal government official.
Pakistan is receiving the European vaccine from a non-Indian source, the government source said.
“Around 1,238,000 doses of Oxford-AstraZeneca’sCOVID-19 vaccine (Covishield) are arriving on May 8 at the Islamabad Airport. It is the first shipment of the COVID-19 vaccine being supplied through COVAX to Pakistan from a non-Indian source,” the National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination official said.
Pakistan was supposed to get the first tranche of AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccine via COVAX in March, but supply was delayed after the Serum Institute of India (SII) diverted supplies to meet its domestic needs, officials said.
The National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination official said Pakistan has now managed to get the coronavirus vaccine from South Korea using influence with partner organisations.
A second batch of the coronavirus vaccines has been committed in June alongside ‘a little over 0.1 million’ of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine doses, the federal government official said, adding that even Moderna’s vaccine could be supplied to Pakistan through COVAX.
Responding to a query if the syringes were also being delivered along with vaccine to Pakistan, the official maintained that GAVI supplies are always bundled having corresponding quantities of syringes. “Our timely acquisition of UCC (ultra cold chain) freezers has put us ahead for Pfizer and Moderna through COVAX,” the official added.
The COVAX vaccine supply situation is likely to improve significantly in the second half of 2021 as more vaccines are likely to be secured by the WHO and EUA, including Chinese vaccines, he said, adding that COVAX has assured Pakistan of providing at least 100,000 doses of mRNA vaccines of Pfizer BioNtech by June this year.