COVID Watch | 4th February 2021

Health authorities warn Sinopharm vaccine unsuitable for people over 60, pregnant and lactating women, and people under 18. Based on population size, Pakistan becomes COVAX programme's second priority nation. Punjab government reserves 7,280 beds for COVID-19 patients, 12% of which are currently occupied.


Sinopharm unsuitable for elderly, pregnant women: SAPM on Health

Health authorities warn that China’s Sinpharm vaccine is not suited for people aged above 60 and below 18, pregnant and lactating women, and people with existing respiratory issues. Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Health (SAPM) on Health Dr. Faisal Sultan confirmed that because of the inadequate sample size of people older than 60 during its Phase III trials, there is not enough data to establish that it will be effective for that age group.

He added that Oxford-AstraZeneca’s vaccine, which will be supplied through COVAX, and is expected to reach Pakistan by the end of February, will be administered to the country’s elderly population instead.

Pakistan among COVAX programme’s priority nations

Due to its population size of 17.2 million, Pakistan is among the priority nations for the World Health Organization (WHO), the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance’s COVAX programme, which aims to inoculate a percentage of the populations of 145 poor nations.

The programme is set to distribute an initial 337.2 million doses, which will be administered to roughly 3 percent of a country’s population by mid-2021. The initial distribution includes 240 million vials of AstraZeneca’s vaccine (with an additional pre-purchased 96 million), and 1.2 million doses of Pfizer-BioNTech’s vaccine.

7,000 beds reserved for COVID-19 patients in Punjab

The Punjab Primary and Secondary Healthcare Department has reserved 7,280 beds for COVID-19 patients, of which 883 (roughly 12 percent) are currently occupied. Of these, 4,547 beds are reserved in the isolation wards of state-owned hospitals across the province – Lahore’s public hospitals have 1,443 beds for coronavirus patients.