Sindh govt dispels rumours of vaccine shortage

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The Sindh government Friday dispelled rumours of the so-called shortage of vaccines within the country and said that it was only reducing the time during which vaccine centres would be open to the public.

In response to queries regarding reports of vaccine shortages and closures of centres, Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah told Dawn that only 225 mobile vaccination units had been temporarily shut, which should not be confused with vaccination centres.

He added that the Sindh government had earlier allowed 60 private hospitals in the province to administer vaccines, but “the facility has also been closed because of a lack of availability of vaccines.”

The chief minister, who responded to the queries via his spokesperson Rasheed Channa, added that the province was expecting to receive 0.5 million doses of the Sinovac vaccine by June 21 and another 0.7 million doses by June 23, which will help overcome the shortage.

Meanwhile, Sindh Health Department spokesperson Mehar Khursheed confirmed to Dawn.com that the province was facing a shortage of vaccines, but blamed the Centre for inadequate supply. She did not, however, have any information on the number of vaccine centres that had to temporarily closed or their timings curtailed due to the shortage.

On the other hand, Young Doctors Association Sindh President Dr Omer Sultan told Dawn that the Sinovac vaccine was not available at any vaccination centre across the city, while some doses of AstraZeneca were still in stock at a hospital in Malir, the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre and the Expo Centre.

He said some people were reluctant to get the AstraZeneca shots because of the reported side effects, while the stock of Sinopharm vaccines had been reserved for people awaiting their second doses.

Meanwhile, witnesses at the Expo Centre Karachi said that Sinovac and Sinopharm were not available for the first dose, while only AstraZeneca was available for the initial dose.

A telephone operator at the Sindh Government Modern Hospital in district East of the city told Dawn.com they were administering vaccines to only those aged above 40.

At the Liaquat National Hospital, the telephone operator said they were administering vaccines all week except Sundays from 9 am to 4 pm. He added that anyone looking to get the jab should come by 9 am to get an appointment.

According to the provincial health department, as many as 55,728 doses of Covid-19 vaccines were administered on Thursday, taking the total number of shots administered to over 2.8 million, or 8.13 per cent of the population.

Of these, 2.23 million shots have been administered as a first dose, while 567,550 shots have been administered as a second dose. The province had a stock of 341,558 doses remaining as of Thursday, a breakdown of which is as follows:

Sinopharm: 169,806
Cansino: 31,428
SinoVac: 65,373
AstraZeneca: 50,652
PakVac: 12,299
Recently, the NCOC also lifted a rule barring the use of AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine for people below the age of 40 years.

On June 16, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Health Dr Faisal Sultan had said that the Covid-19 vaccine shortage being reported at some vaccination centres was a temporary issue, adding that the situation was expected to improve after June 20.

“There are more than 2,000 vaccination centres in the country and the number of visitors varies. So there may be a shortage of vaccines in some centres,” he had said, adding that busy centres have more demand. Sultan called on the public to cooperate with local authorities and staff at vaccination centres and to follow instructions.

As many as eight more patients of Coronavirus died overnight lifting the death toll to 5,314 and 542 new cases emerged when 13,970 tests were conducted.

This was stated by Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah in a statement issued on Friday. He added that eight more patients of Covid-19 lost their lives lifting the death toll to 5,314 that constituted a 1.6 percent death rate.

Shah said that 13,970 samples were tested which detected 542 cases that constituted 3.9 percent current detection rate. He added that so far 4,354,403 tests have been conducted against which 331,077 cases were diagnosed; of them, 92.4 percent or 305,933 patients have recovered, including 514 overnight.

The CM said that currently, 19,830 patients were under treatment; of them, 19,189 were in home isolation, 27 at isolation centres and 614 at different hospitals. He added that the condition of 561 patients were stated to be critical, including 49 shifted to ventilators.

Moreover, Federal Minister for Finance and Revenue, Shaukat Tarin has directed the Economic Affairs Division to start the process of availing the credit lines with Pakistan’s development partners for ensuring timely payments to the vendors of Covid-19 vaccines.

The finance minister issued this direction while holding a special meeting with Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar, Federal Minister for EAD Omar Ayub Khan and Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination Dr Faisal Sultan on Friday.

The meeting reviewed the situation of Covid-19 vaccine availability in the country.

The finance minister said that no compromise will be made on the health of the people. He said that providing safety to the citizens through timely vaccine procurement is the foremost priority of the government. He also directed the Finance Division to ensure timely disbursement of funds as per supplies schedules.

Asad Umar in his position as National Command and Operation Centre chairman briefed the meeting that the NCOC forum reviews the situation on a weekly basis and makes all possible efforts in collaboration with the relevant stakeholders so that the vaccine supply chain is not disrupted. He said that almost every country is securing its supplies in advance which builds pressure to make immediate payments.

The finance minister was also briefed by the minister for EAD on the availability of credit lines with development partners for vaccine procurement.

with additional input from TLTP and APP