Pakistan Prepares to Open Educational Institutions Amidst Rising Coronavirus Related Deaths
Pakistan Prepares to Open Educational Institutions Amidst Rising Coronavirus Related Deaths

Coronavirus claims another 80 lives as more than 1700 positive cases come forward. Deaths keep on rising as schools reopen in 3 days.

The Minister for education has met the stakeholders to decide the future of educational institutions amidst the coronavirus situation. According to the decisions already made in the meetings on the 4th and then 15th January, colleges are now open. Schools and universities are going to reopen at the turn of the month.

The coronavirus situation seems to be getting out of hand as more and more people fall victim to it. People are not paying heed to precautions and schools are about to reopen. Parents are voicing their concern as the students have not gone to school in a year and now that the final examinations are over the horizon the schools will look to grade their children badly.

That is the least of concern for other parents, whose worry is the well-being of their children. In other countries, things are returning to normal as the vaccination process progresses. Saudi Arabia has given out vaccinations to about 1 million citizens. It remains to be seen if the spread of the virus will see an acceleration after this reopening.

Coronavirus Vaccination Drive

Pakistan’s Covid-19 vaccination drive will be launched next week, starting with front-line health workers, the federal Minister for Planning Asad Umar said on Wednesday.

“A system for vaccination is in place. Hundreds of vaccination centers across the country will be administering Covid-19 vaccine,” Umar, who is also the head of the National Command and Operations Centre (NCOC), said in a tweet.

“God willing, the vaccination of frontline health workers will start next week,” he added.

China has pledged to donate 500,000 doses of the coronavirus vaccine made by Chinese firm SinoPharm to Pakistan.

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Two government sources told Reuters the first batch would be flown in on Saturday.

Pakistan has so far approved three coronavirus vaccines — the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, the vaccine developed by Chinese state-owned firm China National Pharmaceutical Group (SinoPharm) and Russian-developed Sputnik V.

Officials say the authorisations will be reviewed quarterly with regard to safety, efficacy and quality.

Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Health Dr Faisal Sultan has said Pakistan could get “in the range of tens of millions” of vaccine doses under an agreement with China’s Cansino Biologics Inc.

Cansino’s Ad5-nCoV vaccine candidate is nearing completion of Phase III clinical trials in Pakistan, and preliminary results may be available by mid-February, Sultan said.

More Free Vaccines?

The government also expects China to donate a further million vaccine doses.

Dr Ghazna Khalid, a member of the government task force on Covid-19, said Pakistan would procure vaccines from various markets.

“There’s going to be an accumulation of vaccines, a consortium available, there’s going to be Chinese vaccines, there’s going to be AstraZeneca,” she said.

“We are the fifth biggest country in the world, and it’s going to be very difficult to immunize.”

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Meanwhile, the availability of the free-of-cost Covid-19 vaccine seems to have been assured for Pakistan as Covax announced earlier this month that it will acquire 150 million doses in the first quarter and two billion doses by the end of the year.

It further said that, out of the two billion doses, 1.3bn will be provided to 92 lower-income economies. As a result of this agreement, the chances of Pakistan getting the free doses in the first quarter of the current year seem to have brightened.

Ministry of National Health Services (NHS) spokesperson Sajid Shah had said it was a positive development and expressed the hope that Pakistan would get the vaccine in the current quarter.

Earlier today, the NCOC had outlined the country’s vaccination strategy against Covid-19, revealing an eight-step process for registration and vaccination once the vaccines become available.

The strategy was developed after consultation with all provinces and relevant stakeholders and is according to established international health guidelines, the NCOC said in a statement.