Wednesday Dec 01 2021
Web Desk

NCOC approves administration of COVID-19 booster jabs for three categories

Web Desk
A file photo of an NCOC meeting.
A file photo of an NCOC meeting.

  • NCOC launches countrywide drive to administer COVID-19 booster jabs.
  • Healthcare workers, 50-year-olds, individuals with weak immune systems and others to be inoculated.
  • Forum directs authorities to adopt a zero-tolerance policy, says people will be "vaccinated on the spot if found unvaccinated".

The National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) has approved the administration of COVID-19 vaccine's booster jab for people grouped into three categories amid the threats of an outbreak of Omicron, a new variant of the virus.

A meeting of the NCOC, chaired by Federal Minister for Planning, Development, and Special Initiatives and NCOC chief Asad Umar, announced to have launched a special vaccination drive in the country from today, December 1.

The forum decided to inoculate healthcare workers, individuals above the age of 50 and those having a weak immune system with the booster shots during the special drive. The individuals who have completed six months of vaccination will also be given a booster jab.

Moreover, the meeting was briefed about the coronavirus outbreak, casualties and new patients brought to the hospitals.

It was stated that 40 vaccination centres have been set up across the country. All the concerned authorities and provinces were directed to adopt a zero-tolerance policy.

The NCOC said that the vaccination teams will remain present at public places to ensure the vaccination of each and every individual.

"People will be vaccinated on the spot if found unvaccinated," it said.

The forum instructed the provincial representatives to focus on the spread of the new variant.

'No case detected in Pakistan so far'

Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Health Dr Faisal Sultan on Tuesday said that no case of Omicron variant of COVID-19 has been detected in Pakistan.

Talking to Geo Pakistan, Dr Faisal Sultan shared that a meeting is scheduled today at the NCOC during which guidelines and policies regarding the vaccination will be finalised.

"We cannot control the Omicron variant from coming to Pakistan, but we can control its impact by ramping up the immunisation process," the health minister said.

"Our priority is those who have not been vaccinated at all."

“With more people immunized, we can control the impact. It is my appeal to the people to get vaccinated and follow SOPs," he added.

What is Omicron?

In a brief interview with Geo News, Dr Sultan explained that the virus is detected by examining the spike protein for certain mutations that could be concerning.

He said that the available information [regarding Omicron] at the moment is based on assumptions. However, he said that after observing South Africa’s surge in infections, it has been established that the new strain’s transmissibility is faster than any previously detected variant of COVID-19.

He also said that any information regarding disease severity and the ability of the virus to "escape" the immune response in vaccinated or recovered people is still not confirmed.

Preventive measures and travel policies

Speaking about the travel restrictions, Dr Sultan said that it has been a challenge to locate the origin of the flights since the beginning of the pandemic.

"Travel restrictions have not served as a means to control the virus. We can delay it [Omicron] but we cannot prevent it from coming to Pakistan."

Dr Sultan said that the NCOC has taken all hospitals and their staff on board to deal with any emergency situation that may arise in the country.