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CHINA TO GIFT HALF A MILLION COVID-19 VACCINE DOSES TO PAKISTAN: FM QURESHI

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Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi on Thursday announced that China will gift Pakistan half a million Covid-19 vaccine doses by the end of January.

“Foreign Minister Wang Yi has said that Pakistan can airlift the medicine,” FM Qureshi said while talking to the media in Islamabad.

The development comes a day after Special Assistant to the Prime Minister (SAPM) on Health Dr Faisal Sultan hoped that the government would procure at least one million doses of the Covid-19 jabs by March.

The advisor had further said that the government aimed to vaccinate 70% of the country’s population against the deadly contagion.

"With encouraging results of Chinese vaccine and our historic relationship, Pakistan has approved emergency use authorisation of SinoPharm," said the foreign minister on his official Twitter handle.

During the telephonic conversation between the two diplomats, Qureshi said he informed his Chinese counterpart that Pakistan required 1.1 million vaccine doses due to its large population.

“The Chinese side also promised to make available the required quantity of the medicine by the end of next month [February],” the FM said and added that China also agreed to manufacture the Covid-19 vaccine in Pakistan.

The first cache of the vaccine was a grant from China to be provided to Pakistan free of cost as a goodwill gesture, he added.

Islamabad's top diplomat added that China has played an instrumental role in Pakistan’s fight against the deadly pathogen with technical assistance and medical expertise.

Meanwhile, through the World Health Organisation's COVAX Facility, Pakistan is expected to get free vaccines for 20% of the country's population.

COVAX is co-led by Gavi – the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) and World Health Organisation WHO. Its aim is to accelerate the development and manufacture of Covid-19 vaccines and to guarantee fair and equitable access for every country in the world.

Earlier, the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (Drap) had approved China's Sinopharm and the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine for emergency use.