Pakistan going for ‘herd immunity’ against COVID-19, PAC told

ISLAMABAD: The Public Account’s Committee (PAC) of the National Assembly has been told by the by the National Health Service (NHS) Secretary Amir Ashraf Khawaja that Pakistan was moving towards the strategy of “Herd Immunity” in the fight against COVID 19.

The PAC was told that a survey had been done and that 15% of Pakistan’s population had COVID-19 antibodies and that 100 million people, around 50% of Pakistan’s population would be eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine.

In the first phase, frontline healthcare workers and the elderly with medical conditions would get vaccinated while in the second phase, all healthcare workers and people aged 60 and above will be able to apply to get the vaccine.

Senator Mushahid Hussain Syed asked the NHS Secretary and National Institute of Health Executive Director Maj Gen Aamir Aamer Ikram about the details of the vaccines which will be given to the people of Pakistan.

The PAC was told that Pakistan would get 16 million doses of Astra Zeneca produced in India from The Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation (Gavi), a public-private health global health partnership.

Pakistan would not buy any vaccines in 2021, and would rely on free vaccine donations at least in this year, the PAC was briefed.

Former Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar asked why Pakistan’s vaccine distribution was the lowest in the region, compared to India and Bangladesh.

“There is no roll out plan”, she said during the PAC meeting.

Senator Mushahid Hussain Syed advised that there should be a COVID-19 awareness campaign with public figures getting vaccinated in front of the media, in order to encourage the population of Pakistan to get vaccinated.

Speaking on vaccine imports by private companies, the PAC was told that there were no “serious” applications at the moment and that none of the applications were being considered since no one fulfilled the criteria.

The PAC was told that citizens could apply to get vaccinated by calling 1166 and entering their CNIC information without the dashes.

Senator Mushahid Hussain also raised the point of dog bites and snake bites taking the lives of people in rural areas because of the lack of vaccines in rural healthcare.

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