Pakistan achieves vaccination target for 2021 as Omicron spreads

Pakistan achieves vaccination target for 2021 as Omicron spreads


People sit next to a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) test sign outside the School of Nursing in Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre (JPMC), in Karachi, Pakistan December 9, 2021. — Reuters/File
  • Pakistan vaccinates 70 million people.
  • Islamabad leads vaccination drive.
  • More than 100 Omicron cases detected in country.

Pakistan on Friday announced it has achieved the 2021 target of vaccinating 70 million people against coronavirus amid rising cases of the new COVID-19 variant, Omicron.

The Omicron variant — dubbed as a “variant of concern” by the World Health Organisation — emerged in November to become the pandemic’s dominant variant, driving new cases at record rates around the world.

In a series of tweets, Chairman National Command and Operation Centre Asad Umar said the federal government has so far procured vaccines worth nearly Rs250 billion.

The NCOC chairman highlighted that Islamabad leads the count as it has fully vaccinated 77% of its population, Punjab 51%, Gilgit-Baltistan 46%, Azad Jammu and Kashmir 45%, Balochistan 42%, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa 41%, and Sindh 37%.

Umar said 46% of the eligible population has been fully vaccinated and 63% partially vaccinated, adding that the federal government had provided free vaccines to people across every province.

Pakistan has administered a total of 156.6 million doses so far, according to the NCOC.

Praising the NCOC for coordinating with provincial health authorities and playing its part in helping Pakistan achieve the vaccination target, Prime Minister Imran Khan thanked the forum for its work.

However, the WHO has warned of trying times ahead, saying Omicron could lead to “a tsunami of cases”.

“This […] will continue to put immense pressure on exhausted health workers, and health systems on the brink of collapse,” WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has said.

Pakistan’s battle against COVID-19 continues to rage with the added challenge of Omicron spreading, as Islamabad reported 34 Omicron positive cases in a single day today, taking the total toll in the Federal Capital to 64, according to the district health officer.

The first Omicron case of the country was reported on December 13 in Karachi, and so far, according to a tally, the total number of cases number at least 133.

Earlier this week, officials warned that Pakistan may experience the fifth wave of COVID-19 in the mid of February 2022 with daily detection of around 3,000-4,000 cases per day.

“Transmission of Omicron variant of the SARS-CoV-2 has started in Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad and we fear a rise in COVID-19 cases all over the country in the coming two weeks,” an official of the National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination (NHSR&C) told The News.

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