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Pak to procure COVID-19 vaccine in first quarter of 2021: health advisor

Sajjad Hussain
·2-min read

Islamabad, Dec 1 (PTI) Pakistan is hoping to get the coronavirus vaccine in the first quarter of next year, a top health official said on Tuesday as the country's COVID-19 cases crossed the 400,000-mark.

Advisor on Health Dr Faisal Sultan said as Pakistan struggled to turn the tide against the pandemic after the second wave hit the country, the cabinet approved USD 150 million to procure the vaccine.

'I think its first stage (to procure vaccine) will be possible in the first quarter of 2021,' Sultan told the media after the meeting of the Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan.

He said the government would consider all relevant factors before buying a vaccine to ensure that it was safe and effective.

Several companies working on the development of a vaccine have been shortlisted and negotiations have started, he said.

Sultan said that in the first stage frontline healthcare workers will be vaccinated, followed by elderly people, other healthcare workers, and finally the common public.

The Cabinet also reduced the price of the 100-milligram injection of remdesivir, a drug used to treat COVID-19 patients, from Rs 9,244 to Rs 5,660, said the advisor.

The Cabinet decision came as the country detected 2,458 new cases in the last 24 hours, taking the total to 400,482, while another 67 people died in this period, pushing the COVID-19 death toll to 8,091, according to the Ministry of National Health Services.

So far, at least 343,286 people have recovered while 2,165 are in a critical condition, according to the ministry.

The data showed that the number of active patients was 49,105.

The authorities conducted 40,969 tests in the last 24 hours, showing a positivity rate of 6 per cent, which is quite low as compared to 8.53 per cent registered on Monday.

Sindh so far reported 174,350 cases, Punjab 119,579, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa 47,370, Islamabad 30,406, Balochistan 17,187, Pakistan-occupied Kashmir 6,933 and Gilgit-Baltistan 4,658 cases Earlier, Officials had said that the recommendations of the National Command and Operation Center for procurement of the vaccine were expected to be presented before the Cabinet for approval. PTI SH MRJ MRJ