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Pakistan to get 2.8 million AstraZeneca vaccine doses from COVAX

Pakistan this month started the anti-coronavirus vaccination drive with 500,000 doses of Sinopharm’s vaccine donated by its ally China.

February 19, 2021 / 01:06 PM IST

Pakistan will receive 2.8 million doses of Oxford AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine on March 2 from the international vaccine alliance, COVAX, Health Minister Faisal Sultan has said as the country announced the launch of a vaccination programme for citizens aged over 65.

Pakistan this month started the anti-coronavirus vaccination drive with 500,000 doses of Sinopharm’s vaccine donated by its ally China.

The country said it will launch the vaccination programme for citizens aged over 65 in the first week of next month.

Sultan said that COVAX would provide 2.8 million doses of Oxford AstraZeneca on March 2, enabling the vaccination of older people.

He said Pakistan was among those 65 countries where vaccination has begun while the process could not be started in 110 countries. He said so far 52,000 health workers have been vaccinated.

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COVID-19 Vaccine

Frequently Asked Questions

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How does a vaccine work?

A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.

How many types of vaccines are there?

There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.

What does it take to develop a vaccine of this kind?

Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.

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“Age group of over 65 years is being given priority because the majority of deaths, out of 12,488 till date, have been reported in this age group,” he said.

Meanwhile, another 1,245 new COVID-19 cases were reported in the country on Friday, bringing the country''s total infection count to 568,506.

The country also reported 40 patients more deaths, taking the death toll to 12,527.
PTI
first published: Feb 19, 2021 01:06 pm

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