Pakistan begins COVID-19 vaccinations
Prof. Dr. Rana Imran Sikander, a 50-year-old anaesthetist and critical care specialist at the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS) Islamabad became the first healthcare worker to receive a shot of Sinopharm’s COVID-19 vaccine at the Prime Minister Office on Tuesday, February 2. Since receiving the dose, Dr. Sikandar reported no side-effects, insisting that the drug was completely safe and urged others to get vaccinated as soon as possible.
The vaccination of registered frontline healthcare workers in the provinces, Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Jammu and Kashmir is set to begin today, on Wednesday as part of the first phase of Pakistan COVID-19 inoculation drive. Prime Minister Imran Khan on Tuesday reiterated that the second phase will begin in the coming weeks which will see the vaccine being administered to citizens aged 65 and above.
Sindh has received 83,000 initial doses and will administer the drug to 115,000 healthcare workers at 15 vaccination centers, nine of which are located in Karachi. Punjab was handed over 70,000 initial doses and will inoculate some 220,000 registered healthcare workers. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa attained 16,000 initial doses to vaccinate some 30,000 healthcare workers at 17 vaccination centers set up in eight districts.
February 1 deadliest day for Punjab since start of 2021
With 46 case fatalities, February 1 became the deadliest day for Punjab since the beginning of 2021, with January 1 recorded the second highest daily death toll for the provine with 43 casualties.
56 people succumbed to the novel coronavirus disease on February 2, with Sindh reporting the most deaths at 29. Punjab followed with 13 fatalities, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa reported 11 and Azad Jammu and Kashmir reported three. Pakistan’s COVID-19 death tally currently stands at 11,802 and is expected to cross 12,000 by next week.
A daily positivity rate of 3.9 percent was recorded in the past 24 hours as 1,384 fresh infections were detected out of 35,460 samples. Meanwhile, 1,509 coronavirus patients managed to recover at an encouraging recovery rate of 91.8 percent. 135 patients turned critical in the same time frame, taking the total number of critical SARS-CoV-2 cases to 2,016. Pakistan active case count currently stands at 33,184.
Sputnik V reported to have 92% efficacy
Phase III trial results for Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine published in the international medical journal The Lancet revealed an efficacy of 91.6 percent, earning it approval from medical experts. Russia was the first to develop a ‘proven’ drug to immunize against the viral respiratory disease, but was met with criticism and skepticism over the perceived ‘hasty’ development and lack of transparency.
Sputnik V, developed by the Moscow-based Gamaleya Research Institute, currently boasts the second highest efficacy. Pfizer-BioNTech’s mRNA-BNT162 and Moderna’s mRNA-1273 are currently the most effective vaccines on the market with an efficacy of 94 percent. The Russian drug has also been noted to be effective for the elderly.
Sputnik V was the third drug to be approved by the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP) for emergency use in the country.