Staff Reporter Islamabad
The chief of the National Command and Operations Centre (NCOC) Asad Umar has made it clear that there is no truth to the notion that Pakistan is not planning on buying coronavirus vaccines.
Speaking to a private TV channel, the Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives said that in fact, the $150 million budget set aside for the purchase of coronavirus vaccines that had been approved by the cabinet can be increased if required.
Umar was responding to reports that the National Health Service (NHS) Secretary Amir Ashraf Khawaja had informed the Public Accounts Committee that the government aims to combat coronavirus through herd immunity and donated vaccines and has no plan to purchase doses at least this year.
Umar said while Pakistan, in line with other countries, does not plan to vaccinate youngsters aged 18 years or younger, around 110 million people are those who must be vaccinated and the government plans on vaccinating at least 60-70% of this number.
The minister said that the doses that will arrive through the GAVI initiative will ensure vaccination for 45 million people, leaving around 30 million who will need additional vaccines. For these, the government will purchase more doses, he said.
“Purchase deals are being made with two companies. We have closed the deal with one and in two to three days will be sealing it with the other.
“From end of March to the end of April we will have several hundred thousand of these purchased vaccines as well,” the minister said.
“Procurement of vaccines will not be stopped due to monetary considerations,” Umar asserted.
‘I appeal to people to get vaccinated’ Speaking of a slow rate of vaccinations and the strategy being employed for Pakistan, Umar said people are not registering as much as they should be.