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First batch of Covid-19 vaccine arrives in Pakistan

ISLAMABAD

Pakistan and China on Monday said they were proud of their friendship and the year 2021 would be even more significant as both countries mark 70 years of establishing diplomatic relations.

Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi and Chinese Ambassador Nong Rong were speaking at the Nur Khan Air Base, where the first batch of 500,000 doses of Sinopharm vaccine arrived through a special PAF flight. The foreign minister thanked the leadership and people of China for sending the gift of Sinopharm vaccine to Pakistan to fight the pandemic. He added that the vaccine had arrived right at the time when Pakistan was grappling with the second wave of COVID-19, his office said in a statement.

“China has demonstrated its commitment today and initiated this campaign from Pakistan. This is practical proof reflecting Pakistan and China’s friendship. The help that they provided us is in front of the nation and I am thankful to China for that too,” said Qureshi.

Ambassador Nong Rong, speaking at the Air Base, said that Pakistan was the “first country in the world to receive vaccines donated by the Chinese government”, terming it a “manifestation of our brotherhood”. “Pakistan is our closest friend and it is the priority for our cooperation. We would like to appreciate the Pakistan government for its facilitation in granting emergency approval to the vaccine and for conducting the Phase 3 trial of this vaccine. We expect more cooperation to follow and more people can benefit from it”, he added.

The foreign minister, particularly, lauded President Xi Jinping’s vision that the COVID-19 vaccine, when developed, should be a ‘global public good.’ He expressed special gratitude to State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi for expeditiously sending the vaccine to Pakistan. “The vaccine will be used to inoculate the front-line health workers to protect them from COVID-19 and will play an important role in saving precious human lives”, the foreign minister added.

“It was underlined by the foreign minister that recently Phase-III clinical trials of Chinese vaccine CanSino had successfully concluded in Pakistan and Pakistan was deepening co-operation with China in the matters relating to vaccine”, said the Foreign Office.

The foreign minister at the Air Base also gave a special mention to the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) and Chinese doctors for coming to Pakistan and training medical health professionals on how to combat the virus.

Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Health Dr Faisal Sultan, Foreign Secretary Sohail Mahmood, Secretary Health Aamir Ashraf Khawaja, and Executive Director National Institute of Health (NIH) Major General Aamer Ikram were also present on the occasion.

The Foreign Office pointed out that Pakistan-China cooperation in fighting the pandemic, since its outbreak, has been exemplary. Pakistan firmly supported China’s global and regional initiatives aimed at controlling the pandemic. Pakistan has supported China-led regional forums that are meaningfully engaged in containing the pandemic and resuming economic activities across the region.

“Alhamdulillah the first batch of Sinopharm vaccine has arrived. We are grateful to China and everyone who made this happen,” Dr Faisal said while commenting on this development.

He added “National Command and Control Operation Centre (NCOC) and provinces played an instrumental role in tackling COVID-19. I salute our frontline healthcare workers for their efforts and they will be first to get vaccinated.”

Meanwhile, Lahore Press Club president has requested Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar to direct the relevant authorities to administer corona vaccines to journalists on priority basis.

A letter to the CM said journalists are frontline soldiers and a number of them have suffered from corona because their nature of work exposes them to infection. Journalists are on the forefront in disseminating awareness among the masses about all epidemics and particularly about this pandemic, it said.

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