Sunday Jun 20, 2021
Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Shahbaz Sharif on Sunday expressed grave concern on the shortage of vaccines in Pakistan and called for the federal government to change its approach with regard to procuring vaccines.
"Planning should be done keeping in view the 220 million population. The small-minded view of ordering a few million vaccines and relying on donations needs to change," the PML-N's official Twitter account quoted Shahbaz as saying.
He said that the unavailability of the coronavirus vaccine is another proof of the government's "criminal negligence and incompetence".
Shahbaz said the Opposition had sounded the alarm time and again for the government to ensure timely booking of vaccines to keep the populace safe from the virus.
"The same thing is happening with the supply of vaccines as that which occurred with the supply of LNG," the PML-N president said.
He went on to state that "just as people with vested interests lined their pockets by scamming people over the sale of wheat flour, sugar and medicines, the same is being repeated when it comes to coronavirus vaccines".
Shahbaz said that it is regrettable that the government, when it comes to the lives of the people, is "displaying the most serious form of criminal negligence".
The Opposition leader said the situation had already been muddied with questions being raised about the Rs1,200 coronavirus relief package following allegations of corruption.
"Theft of public funds is rampant and the provision of services to the public is zero," he said.
"The people are being punished for the government's thievery, incompetence and poor planning, which is regrettable and condemnable," Shahbaz added.
Shahbaz's remarks followed a statement by Minister for Planning Asad Umar, who said that a record number of vaccines — 2.3 million — had been administered to people in the week of June 12-18. He said this was done at a rate of 332,877 jabs a day.
"This is the highest so far in any week," Umar said.
The minister, who is also the chief of the National Command and Operations Centre which is central to Pakistan's fight against coronavirus, said that 1.5 million vaccines are arriving today and in the next 10 days, 5 million more will arrive.
"InshaAllah next week will be a new record. Well done Pakistan," he wrote.
Umar's statement came following vaccine shortages reported in Punjab and Sindh at the turn of the weekend.
In Lahore, only four out of 23 vaccination centres were said on Friday to be administering vaccines, according to sources in the Punjab Health Department.
The sources said prior to the shortage, 60,000-50,000 people were being inoculated daily, while on June 16, 35,625 jabs were administered, and on June 17, 23,425 people were inoculated.
Meanwhile, vaccine stocks have completely dried up in Bahawalnagar, while the stock in Gujranwala was expected to finish on Friday.
In Karachi, the situation is just as worrying, as 90 COVID-19 vaccination centres were reported at the time to have almost run out of vaccines, according to sources in the Sindh Health Department.
The sources said small vaccination centres in districts Korangi, Central, South, East, and West are all facing shortages.
In Sindh overall, 40% of the vaccination centres have halted the inoculation process due to a shortage, sources said.