Priority to Hajj pilgrims, expats for Pfizer jabs: Asad

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Pakistan records 67 new deaths from Covid-19
Staff Reporter
Islamabad

Federal Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Minister Asad Umar said on Thursday that citizens intending to go for Haj this year, those working abroad on work visas issued by countries that did not recognise vaccination certificates of Chinese vaccines and students planning to go to educational institutions in such countries within a month would be given priority for the administration of Pfizer — an American Covid-19 vaccine brand.

Umar, who was speaking to the media in Islamabad, said in reply to a question that Pakistan had received a limited quantity of Pfizer this month and therefore, preference for its administration had to be given to some segments. However, he added, Pakistan would receive more doses of Pfizer in the future.

The minister further warned that countries not accepting vaccination certificates of Chinese vaccines would turn out to be a problem for the entire world if a decision was not taken on the issue at the global level.

“If every country makes it mandatory for visitors to be inoculated by their choice of vaccine [brands], the entire world would suffer,” he said, adding that Chinese Covid-19 vaccines were the most exported brands in the world at present.

Earlier, The Pakistan Medical Association had urged the World Health Organisation to play its role in getting all vaccines accepted by countries which made it mandatory for visitors to be inoculated by only certain brands.

In a written letter to WHO Director General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus in May, PMA Secretary General Dr Qaisar Sajjad had requested the world health body to help resolve the vaccination issue of people who need to travel abroad because the relevant authorities of some countries had approved vaccines of only certain companies.

He had warned that this policy would have a devastating effect on international travel and trade. Umar also spoke about the progress of vaccination against Covid-19 in Pakistan on Thursday.

He said the vaccination campaign against Covid-19 would be successful since the government had taken the private sector and business community onboard and also planned to partner with non-governmental organisations to accelerate the campaign and make it more effective.

He told reporters that there were around 1,700 Covid-19 vaccination centres in Pakistan at present, and the government planned to increase the number to 4,000.