Pakistan will receive its first purchase of over 1 million doses of Chinese Sinopharm and CanSino vaccines by the end of March, Planning Minister Asad Umar told Reuters on Tuesday.
This will be the first consignment of COVID-19 vaccines the federal government has purchased from any manufacturer for 220 million people.
The government has previously relied on donations and on allocations from the World Health Organisation-backed COVAX scheme for poorer nations.
“We have purchased one million and 60,000 doses of Sinopharm and CanSino vaccines,” Asad Umar who also heads the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) said. “We will be receiving the consignment before the end of March.”
He said the government was in talks with the same companies to purchase a further seven million doses of the vaccines.
“We want them to deliver that seven million by the end of April, but they have not confirmed this yet. They might have some supply issues,” Umar added.
Earlier, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi discussed with his Chinese counterpart the supply of the vaccines from China to Pakistan during March-April 2021 to reinforce Pakistan’s capacity to effectively and expeditiously fight the pandemic.
State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi reassured that China will continue to firmly support Pakistan in its fight against the pandemic and accord highest priority to the requirements of its time-tested friend.
Qureshi expressed gratitude to China for earlier gifting Pakistan 1.5 million doses of Chinese vaccine, underlining that it had played a pivotal role in protecting precious human lives
Pakistan is currently vaccinating frontline healthcare workers and citizens over the age of 60 free of charge using Sinopharm doses donated by China.
The South Asian country has recently experienced a sharp rise in infections.