Pakistan will be vaccinating its older age groups this week with the Chinese-made Sinopharm vaccine, said the country’s top health official Tuesday.
Starting March 10 (Wednesday), Pakistan will kick off its second phase of the COVID-19 vaccination drive to administer the jab to those 60 years of age and over, Federal Planning and Development Minister Asad Umar had announced on Twitter.
The country’s first phase of the vaccination campaign commenced on February 2, with the inoculation of its frontline healthcare workers after China donated 500,000 doses of its locally-made Sinopharm vaccine.
Dr Faisal Sultan, special assistant to the prime minister on health, told Geo.tv that the Chinese vaccine will be initially administered to the elderly. “We will be starting with Sinopharm,” he said, “Later, other [vaccines] will come into play, including the AstraZeneca.”
Dr Sultan said the Sinopharm vaccine is currently available in the country.
He tweeted about the vaccination drive too, saying that it will start with the senior most citizens, who will get a text message on their number with instructions.
China has also gifted an additional batch of 500,000 vaccine doses to Pakistan which is expected to arrive later this month.
Separately, Pakistan is also on the list to receive 17,160,000 doses of coronavirus vaccine through the global COVAX programme. The bulk of the vaccine being distributed by COVAX will be the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine and some doses of Pfizer.
Pakistan’s decision to use Sinopharm for older groups comes a month after Dr Sultan had announced in a press briefing that the vaccine was not recommended for people older than 60 years, adding that more data was needed to make the decision.
The Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan, however, authorised the use of Sinopharm for people over 60 years, reported Dawn News. The decision was confirmed to the publication by Sajid Shah, the spokesperson of the ministry of national health services.