- Pakistan is set to procure doses of China’s Sinopharm vaccine in the first quarter of this year
- Healthcare workers, who interact directly with coronavirus patients and people over 65 years of age to be vaccinated first
- Medics and professionals, who do not come in direct contact with the COVID-19 infected will be administered the vaccine in the second stage
The Punjab government has prepared a three-stage plan to vaccinate its over 110 million population against the coronavirus, said health officials.
As Pakistan is set to procure doses of China’s Sinopharm vaccine in the first quarter of this year, Punjab, Pakistan’s most populous province, aims to vaccinate its residents in three phases.
The most vulnerable or high-risk individuals will be given the vaccine jab in the first stage, Captain retired Muhammad Usman, secretary Punjab’s primary and secondary healthcare department told a press briefing on Thursday.
Those first in line to be vaccinated will include healthcare workers, who interact directly with coronavirus patients and people over 65 years of age.
In the second stage, medics and professionals, who do not come in direct contact with the COVID-19 infected will be administered the vaccine, as well as people over 60 years of age.
Finally, in the last stage, the vaccination drive will be open to the rest of the province, the secretary added.
With the help of the National Database and Registration Authority, the health officials have identified 0.5 million healthcare workers in Pakistan dealing with coronavirus patients, Captain (r) Usman explained. Upwards to 9.5 million people are over the age of 65 years and 16.8 million are over 60 years in the country. Both will be in the list of priority groups.
While talking about the use of rapid antigen testing in the province, Nabeel Ahmad Awan, secretary of the specialized healthcare and medical education department, told reporters that Punjab has decided against utilizing the rapid testing kits for now.
“The price of a PCR test is cheaper these days than that of an antigen test,” he added, “Plus the antigen test is not as reliable as PCR.” An antigen test kits costs between Rs. 1,200 to 1,600 each while a PCR test costs around Rs. 700, Awan said.
The secretary also said that till now, the UK virus mutant strain has not been detected in Punjab.