China has assured Pakistan that it will provide COVID-19 vaccines ahead of other countries and has pledged to donate a half million more doses by the end of this month, said state-run media on Tuesday.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi told his Pakistani counterpart Shah Mahmood Qureshi by phone that over 100 countries have contacted China for vaccines, but Beijing will prioritize meeting Islamabad’s needs, according to Radio Pakistan.
Beijing also announced it would donate more a half-million doses of the Chinese vaccine to Islamabad by the end of this month.
In a separate statement by Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry, Qureshi said the government has devised an elaborate vaccination plan to combat the pandemic across the country.
“To reinforce Pakistan’s capacity to effectively and expeditiously fight the pandemic, Foreign Minister Qureshi discussed with his Chinese counterpart the supply of COVID-19 vaccine from China to Pakistan during March-April 2021,” the ministry said.
Wang Yi reassured Qureshi that China will continue to firmly support Pakistan in its fight against the pandemic and accord the highest priority to the requirements of its time-tested friend.
Qureshi thanked China for gifting 1.5 million doses of vaccine, saying it had played a critical role in saving valuable human lives.
Pakistan had already received one million doses of the Chinese Sinopharm vaccine as a gift from Beijing.
Qureshi also expressed gratitude to Chinese Premier Li Keqiang for his thoughtful message wishing Prime Minister Imran Khan a speedy recovery from COVID-19. Wang Yi also wished Khan a speedy recovery.
Khan and his wife, Bushra Bibi, both tested positive for COVID-19 on Saturday, but his spokesperson, Shahbaz Gill, said Khan is doing his normal office work from home and is feeling better now.
COVID-19 third wave
The South Asian country of over 200 million people, is currently facing the third wave of coronavirus, with 3,270 cases reported in the last 24 hours.
With the addition of new cases, the country’s total caseload increased to 633,741, while the death toll raised to 13,935 with 72 more deaths.
On Monday, the country announced a three-week extension of the ongoing COVID-19 restrictions in order to stem the rising number of cases.
The restrictions include “broader lockdowns” with no mobility allowed except for emergencies.
The country began its vaccination campaign for the frontline health workers on Feb. 2 and for people above 60 on March 10.
Last month, the government said it had secured 17 million doses of the vaccine developed by Oxford-AstraZeneca through the WHO-led COVAX initiative.