China to send 500,000 free vaccine doses to Pakistan by Jan 31, says FM Qureshi

Islamabad: Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said on Thursday China had promised to send 500,000 free doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to Pakistan by January 31.

Pakistan is currently battling its second wave of the coronavirus and recorded 2,363 new infections on Thursday, with 54 deaths.

In a televised statement, Qureshi said he had spoken to his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi on Thursday and discussed Pakistan’s vaccine needs.

“He [Chinese foreign minister] asked me to send aircraft and airlift this medicine immediately,” Qureshi said, adding that he had informed his Chinese counterpart that Pakistan needed 1.1 million vaccine doses in the near future.

“He [Foreign Minister YI] said China aims to fulfill Pakistan’s requirement” by the end of February, the FM added.

“Indeed Pakistan greatly appreciates the 500,000 doses of the vaccine gifted by China,” Qureshi wrote on Twitter.

Earlier this week, Pakistan’s de facto health chief, Dr. Faisal Sultan, said a phase three clinical trial for a potential vaccine being developed by China’s CanSino Biologics was nearly complete and Pakistan would get 20 million doses if the vaccine turned out to be “effective.”

Pakistan is in contact with a number of vaccine makers and earlier this month, AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine was approved for emergency use in Pakistan, making it the first coronavirus vaccine to get the green light for use in the South Asian country.

Under Pakistan’s approved vaccine protocol, frontline health care workers would be vaccinated in the first phase followed by people above 65 years of age and the general public in the third phase.

Last week, Pakistan completed registering 300,000 frontline workers for coronavirus vaccination. (AGENCIES)

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