Industrial plants being considered for oxygen supply: Dr Faisal Sultan
Pakistan has administered more than two million COVID-19 vaccine doses and the process is going smoothly so far, said Dr Faisal Sultan, prime minister’s special assistant for health, during a press conference on Tuesday.
“There is a false impression being given that the government is relying solely on COVID-19 vaccine donations from other countries,” Dr Sultan said. “This is misleading.”
Since March 30, three million vaccine doses have been purchased from three different manufacturers. Pakistan has also signed deals to procure an additional 30 million doses, the PM’s aide said.
One of these deals requires the transfer of technology from China. This is for the CanSino Bio vaccine Convidecia which will be prepared in Pakistan, he added.
China had gifted us 1.7 million doses of the coronavirus vaccine which were used to start off our inoculation drive, Dr Sultan said.
There’s a vaccine shortage worldwide due to supply problems and the spread of the virus. Even rich countries like Canada and Australia had to slow down their vaccination programmes due to shortages, Dr Sultan said. “It doesn’t matter how much money a country has if the vaccine itself is not being produced in adequate quantities.”
We have also engaged COVAX, the global vaccine sharing platform, but supplies have been delayed because of the demand from other countries.
“We hope they fulfil their commitment to us soon,” the PM’s aide said.
He stated that there are 1,200 vaccination centres across Pakistan. Of these, 22 are mass vaccination centres.
The country has a daily capacity of 5,000 vaccinations.
Dr Sultan reiterated that people above 40 years can register for the vaccine starting today (Tuesday). Vaccination centres are closed on Fridays but open Sundays.
Vaccination is very important, but for such a populated country like ours the most important thing is following SOPs, Dr Sultan advised. “If the coronavirus situation worsens we might have to impose lockdowns in more cities.”
He urged people to trust the decisions taken by the National Command and Operation Centre.
We receive detailed information about different areas separately at the NCOC, he said adding that this included comparisons of different cities, daily statistics, SOP compliance and stress on the healthcare system in that area.
All decisions are made after taking these into consideration.
There is a committee in the NCOC dedicated to monitoring oxygen supplies for coronavirus patients, Dr Sultan said.
They are trying to manage the demand and supply and increase capacity regularly.
The NCOC committee monitors various oxygen plants and will decide what course to take if things get worse.
Different oxygen plants, including the one at Pakistan Steel Mills, are being considered. Engineers are present and working on making them active, he said.
If it becomes necessary the NCOC has techniques ready to divert oxygen supply from nonessential industrial uses. The possibility of importing oxygen supplies is also present, Dr Sultan said.
Pakistan on Tuesday reported 4,487 new COVID-19 cases and 142 deaths. The tally of infections has crossed 800,000 and the death toll is now 17,329. A total of 699,816 people have recovered from the virus, but the recovery rate has fallen to 86.9% recently.