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COVID-19 vaccine updates in Pakistan and around the world

Timeline of all major vaccine authorisations, research and fact-checks

SAMAA | - Posted: Mar 13, 2021 | Last Updated: 8 months ago
Posted: Mar 13, 2021 | Last Updated: 8 months ago

Artwork: Trinette Lucas/ SAMAA Digital

This story was last updated at 4pm Friday, March 13, 2021.

The coronavirus pandemic continues to grow with second and third waves reported in many countries. Vaccines are, however, also being rolled out in many places. Rich countries have already secured supplies while poorer countries await their turn.

Key updates in Pakistan

  • Registration is open for all health workers and people over 60 years
  • Vaccination for people over 60 is underway using Sinopharm shot
  • Around 96,000 health workers vaccinated in Punjab and Sindh each
  • COVAX will provide 5.6m doses of AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine by March
  • PM’s aide on health Dr Faisal Sultan received his first shot on Feb 22


Pakistan formally launched the coronavirus vaccination drive on February 3 as the country continues to battle the virus. The first batch of COVID-19 vaccines from China arrived in Pakistan via a PAF plane on Monday (February 1). China has donated 500,000 doses of the Sinopharm vaccine, which has an efficacy of 79.3%.

The National Command and Control Centre (NCOC) has distributed the second batch of vaccines to the provinces. 

Sindh received the most doses–a total of 121,000. Punjab got 118,000 doses, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa 28,000, Balochistan 16,000, Islamabad 15,500, Azad Jammu and Kashmir 11,000 and Gilgit-Baltistan 5,000.

COVID-19 vaccine updates Pakistan and around the world

Earlier, Sindh had received 84,000 doses of the vaccine, Punjab 70,000, KP 16,000 and Balochistan 10,300 doses. 

Pakistan will receive 2.8 million doses of the AstraZeneca-Oxford COVID-19 vaccine close to March 2, PM’s aide on health Dr Faisal Sultan announced on Feb 18.

These vaccines will be used to inoculate people above the age of 65 years. This demographic also includes health workers aged 65 and above.

We will receive this vaccine through the COVAX facility–which is a global alliance formed to ensure equitable access to vaccines for lower-income countries. COVAX is providing Pakistan a total of 17 million doses of the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine. The first shipment is expected to arrive before June. 

How to get the coronavirus vaccine in Pakistan

The National Command and Control Centre has released details of Pakistan’s vaccination plan for COVID-19. Registration for all health workers began on February 22.

NCOC Chief Asad Umar announced on Feb 15 that vaccine registrations for people above 60 years have opened.

Here’s how you can get the vaccine:

  1. You will have to send your CNIC number to the Sehat Tahaffuz helpline 1166 through SMS or the NIMS website
  2. The system will verify your address and confirm registration and you will be sent details of your designated AVC along with a unique PIN code. If the designated AVC is outside your current tehsil, you can change it through the NIMS web portal or by calling 1166 helpline within five days of receiving the first SMS
  3. Once the vaccine arrives at your centre, you will be contacted for an appointment for vaccination
  4. After confirmation and registration, you will have to take your original CNIC and PIN code to the centre on the appointed day
  5. Staff at the vaccination centre will verify your CNIC and PIN code
  6. After verification, you will receive the COVID-19 vaccine
  7. Vaccine staff will enter your details in NIMS and a confirmation message will be sent to you through SMS
  8. You will have to remain at the AVC for 30 minutes for post-inoculation monitoring for any adverse effects

A dashboard will be created in real-time to update government health departments at the district, provincial and federal levels.

Here are the major vaccine frontrunners in the world with their efficacy and the countries they have been rolled out in:

Pfizer vaccine:

Authorised in: Belgium, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Mexico, Philippines, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Singapore, UK, US, WHO

Vaccinations begin:
UK: Dec 8, 2020
Canada: Dec 15, 2020
Saudi Arabia: Dec 17, 2020
Israel: Dec 20, 2020
Qatar: Dec 22, 2020
Mexico: Dec 24, 2020
Serbia: Dec 24, 2020
Kuwait: Dec 24, 2020
Chile: Dec 24, 2020
Latin America: Dec 24, 2020
EU: Dec 27, 2020
Singapore: Dec 30,2020
Jordan: Jan/Feb, 2021

Pfizer vaccine_infograph

Moderna vaccine:

Authorised in: US, Canada, Mexico, EU, Israel

Vaccinations begin:
US: Dec, 2020
Canada: Dec, 2020



Gamaleya vaccine:

Authorised in: Russia, Belarus, Argentina, Algeria

Vaccinations begin:
Russia: Dec 15, 2020
Belarus: Dec 29, 2020
Algeria: Jan 2021




Sinovac vaccine:

Authorised in: China, Turkey

Vaccinations begin:
China: October, 2020
Turkey: Mid-Jan, 2021

coronavirus vaccine Sinovac_biotech (2)




Bharat Biotech:

Authorised in: India

Vaccinations begin:
India: Jan 16, 2021 (emergency use)

coronavirus vaccine Covaxin_vaccine-info (3)

Vaccine name Manufacturer Efficacy Status Authorised in Vaccinations start
EpiVacCorona Vector Institute Not known Trial phase 3 Russia Russia: Jan 18, 2021  
N/A Sinopharm- Wuhan Not known Trial phase 3 China, UAE China  


Pakistan decides to buy Sinopharm vaccine

On December 31, Federal Minister for Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhry announced that the cabinet committee had decided to buy China’s Sinopharm vaccine for COVID-19.

Initially, 1.2 million doses will be purchased from Sinopharm, the federal science minister said on Twitter. The vaccine will be given free of charge to frontline workers in the first quarter of 2021.

Sinopharm_beijing vaccine (2)

Infographic: Obair Khan/ SAMAA Digital

Earlier, the Sindh government had announced that the COVID-19 vaccine would arrive in Pakistan mid-January. On Tuesday, however, the provincial government said that the federal government had hinted at a delay. The same day, the Cabinet relaxed procurement rules for the COVID-19 vaccine.

Provincial Health Minister Dr Azra Pechuho has directed the vaccine coordination cell and officials to ensure smooth supply once inoculation starts at the Karachi Expo Centre.

On Thursday, Parliamentary Secretary for Health Dr Nausheen Hamid announced that the government is expecting the first shipment of the vaccine to arrive by the end of January.

DRAP grants Sinopharm, Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines emergency approval

On Saturday (Dec 16), Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Health Dr Faisal Sultan told Reuters that the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan had granted emergency use authorisation to the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine.

Astra-Zeneca_Oxford vaccine (2)

Sindh Health Minister Dr Azra Pechuho has emphasised the need for vaccination and said the vaccines cannot be imported until the federal government approves.

“Unfortunately, Pakistan is the last country that has yet to order vaccines,” she said. “Procuring vaccines is the federal government’s responsibility. If they can’t do it, they should allow the provincial government to procure vaccines and start administering them.”

She added that 70% to 80% of Pakistan’s population needs to be vaccinated to achieve herd immunity.

Vaccine procurement

Pakistan was in the “advanced stage” of discussions for the procurement of COVID-19 vaccines from Chinese companies Sinopharm and Cansino, PM’s aide on health Dr Faisal Sultan announced on January 20.

Around 1 million doses of the vaccines will be available in the country by the end of the first quarter, Dr Sultan said at a presser in Islamabad.

CanSino-Biologics-+-The-Military-Institute-of-Biology (4)

“If we inoculate 70% of those over 18 years, we could achieve herd immunity,” he said.

The vaccination campaign will cover the whole country through the Expanded Programme of Immunisation, which is responsible for vaccine delivery to children. It will handle the storage of vaccine doses too.

Pakistan Covid-19 vaccine registration

The government’s National Command and Operation Center (NCOC) opened registrations on January 10 for frontline healthcare workers, who will receive the first doses of the Covid-19 vaccine. Staff in both public and private health facilities will be vaccinated, NCOC announced on its website.

Frontline health workers can register by calling the federal helpline 1166. Additionally, the medical facilities they work in have to register them, says the government.

SAMAA Health has compiled all the major updates here:

March 2021

February 2021


January 2021

December 2020

November 2020

October 2020

September 2020

August 2020

July 2020

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