An officer calls on residents with their registration numbers, who are waiting to receive a dose of COVID-19 vaccine, outside a vaccination facility in Karachi, on August 4, 2021. Image Credit: REUTERS

Doctors and health workers in Pakistan are going for booster shots (more than one vaccine) in order to strengthen their defence system against the Delta variant of COVID-19 and to prevent themselves from getting re-infected.

This was revealed at an international conference of the Pakistan Society of Internal Medicines (PSIM) in Islamabad when Vice Chancellor of the University of Health Sciences Dr Javed Akram asked the audience how many among them had received booster shots. Almost 80 per cent of the audience responded by raising their hands.

Later they explained that they received booster shots because their colleagues and health workers were testing positive despite completing their vaccination course.

Since the majority of the participants were doctors, they by received booster shots by using their connections or influence.

In Punjab, too, cases are reported when doctors and health workers have been re-infected with the virus despite being vaccinated.

Most of them are frontline healthcare workers of the public sector hospitals of the province.

A day earlier, during a meeting of the Corona Experts Advisory Group (CEAG) in Lahore, it was shared that almost 10 per cent of 140 infected doctors and frontline health workers were those who had received two doses of vaccine.

The meeting was attended by CEAG Chairman Prof Mahmood Shaukat, King Edward Medical College Dean Prof Saqib Saeed, Punjab Healthcare Commission Director Dr Mushtaq Sulehrya, additional secretaries (technical) from both health departments, senior epidemiologist Shahid Sethi and other medical experts.

The health officials shared the study report on COVID-19 patients under treatment at various public sector hospitals of the province.

In Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad hospitals, the majority of the doctors and health workers said though they had received Chinese vaccine shots, yet they insisted they should be administered Pfizer or Moderna vaccine boosters as well.

No booster shots before vaccination of 80% population

When asked if doctors and frontline health workers were required to have booster shots despite being vaccinated, Dr Faisal Sultan, Special Assistant to prime minister on Health, said for those who have already been vaccinated, having booster shots might be helpful but so far, it is not confirmed whether it is good to receive shots of more than one vaccine.

Moreover, he said unless Pakistan’s 80 per cent eligible population was vaccinated, the government would not consider administering booster shots.

At present we are focusing on those who have not yet been vaccinated, he said.

More than 84,000 active cases of COVID-19

Pakistan on Tuesday reported 84,427 active cases of COVID-19 with positivity rate at 7.84 per cent. According to the National Command & Operation Centre (NCOC), 86 deaths and 3,884 new cases of COVID-19 were reported against 49,506 tests in the last twenty-four hours.

Daily more than 1 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine are being administered and according to the NCOC during the last twenty-four hours, too, 1.033 million doses were administered.

Two doctors die of COVID-19 in Karachi

Two doctors of Sindh died of COVID-19 taking the overall number of doctors who died due to COVID-19 to 73 in the province.

A senior doctor of Karachi’s Civil Hospital Dr Nisar Ali Shah and a gynecologist Dr Farzana Memon hailing from Naushahro Feroze district succumbed to the disease.

Dr Nisar was fully vaccinated, according to the Pakistan Medical Association (PMA) and was serving as Medico-Legal Officer of Karachi. However, despite vaccination, he got infected and died after his condition deteriorated.