Tuesday, February 7

Provinces be given authority to procure vaccines: ministers

KARACHI:Sindh Health Minister Dr Azra Fazal Pechuho and Information Minister Syed Nasir Hussain Shah have said that despite contact with the federal government regarding the corona vaccine, no schedule for the availability of the vaccine had come to light so far.

“We will be the last country in the world to have a delayed availability of vaccines. The provinces be given the authority to procure vaccines so that the vaccination phase could be started at provincial level,” they expressed these views at a press conference held at People’s Hall Sindh Secretariat Karachi on Saturday. Director International Center for Chemical and Biological Sciences (ICCBS), University of Karachi Dr Muhammad Iqbal Chaudhry and others were also present on the occasion.

Pechuho stated that arrangements had been completed for the first phase vaccination in Sindh. She added that Karachi University’s International Center for Chemical and Biological Sciences was the only institution in the country in which corona virus was being profiled under genomic surveillance as mutations were observed in the deadly virus with passage of time.

She said that if the vaccines currently available in the world were not utilized, the vaccines might not be effective due to the change in the structure of virus. The Sindh Health Minister demanded that the two vaccines which were approved by DRAP, should be allowed to be purchased at the provincial level.

“To save lives, it is important that we start vaccinating as soon as possible, she added. In response to a question, she said that vaccinating people would be more beneficial than making expenditure on the treatment of corona patient and we would also be able to better protect the lives of our health staff.

Pechuho said that the trials of the vaccine had been successfully completed and its safety level had also been checked. “The vaccine will be available in some private hospitals, but we want to provide it to the people for free of cost,” She said and added that in view of the population of Karachi, it is important to start vaccination as soon as possible.

“We want to take the initiative. To a question, the Provincial Health Minister said that no negative effects have been reported so far in the trial of sinopharm vaccine which was being used in China, UAE, Bahrain and other countries. We are not in a hurry with regard to the vaccine. The vaccine process has started in the world.

“We can procure vaccines by spending a little bit every month by cutting other health expenditure,” she said. Replying to a question, the Provincial Health Minister said that the federal government was going to run government hospitals under a private system after abolishing the pensions of the doctors and paramedics working in those health facilities under the conditions of IMF.

She said that they wanted to provide free medical facilities to the people of Sindh, while the federal government wanted to make the country a capital state by benefiting private hospitals and companies. She said that federal government wanted to take control of three hospitals in Sindh but expenses of these hospitals were still being incurred by the Sindh government.

On the occasion, Syed Nasir Hussain Shah said that the incompetence of the federal government on every issue was apparent. They failed on sugar, flour, petrol issues and now their attitude was misleading on the availability of vaccines also. Speaking on the occasion, ICCBS Director Dr Iqbal Chaudhry said that it was initially said that there would be minor mutation in the virus, but it has been rapidly changing, we are conducting research on this virus following the orders of the Sindh government.

The virus has more than 30,000 molecules, changes in molecules change the shape of the virus, there are 122 changes in the genome of the virus. Pakistan’s virus is different from the virus found in rest of world. Genomic surveillance is being carried out all over the country following the directives of Sindh government.