Pakistan vaccine
An elderly resident receives the first dose of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine, as the government started vaccination for the general public, starting with elderly people, at a vaccination centre in Karachi, Pakistan March 10, 2021. Image Credit: Reuters

Islamabad: Pakistan’s coronavirus vaccination drive achieved a small milestone on Tuesday as 1 million citizens have been vaccinated.

More than 76,000 people were administered the vaccine on April 5, taking the total number of vaccination to 1 million, said Minister Asad Umar who is spearheading the national fight against the pandemic.

At least 600,000 healthcare workers and 1.4 million citizens above the age of 50 have been administered the vaccines at government health facilities. Most of the people have currently only received the first dose of vaccine.

Free vaccines by government

Pakistan government is currently administering the 2.5 million doses of Sinopharm and single-shot CanSino doses received from China. Another 4 million COVID-19 vaccines are expected to be delivered by the end of April. Pakistan aims to vaccinate around 70 million of its total 220 million population to reach community immunity.

The government is offering free vaccines to frontline healthcare workers and senior citizens but the officials have also allowed the commercial imports of vaccines to overcome the dismally slow vaccination rollout and the spike in infections in the country of 220 million.

Young people go for private vaccines

Thousands of Pakistanis, mostly young people, rushed to get vaccinated as the country began the commercial sale of 50,000 doses of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine in designated private hospitals this week. The two-shot vaccine costs about Rs12,000 ($80). All of the privately procured 5,000 doses at Karachi’s South City Hospital were reportedly administered or pre-booked in just two days.

Mobile Vaccines

Last week, the government launched mobile vaccination service to reach some of the country’s most vulnerable residents, particularly senior citizens above 80 years of age and people with disabilities, directly in their homes. The service would soon be expanded nationwide, officials said.

Pakistan is experiencing an uptick in COVID-19 cases amid the infectious third wave of coronavirus and averaging around 4,000 new cases daily since March 24. The number of active cases of COVID-19 is currently 63,102 – the highest since July 2020. Pakistan recorded 3,953 new coronavirus cases and at least 103 deaths in the last 24 hours, taking the total tally of infections to 696,184. A total of 14,924 people lost their lives to coronavirus in the country since the pandemic began, according to official stats.