KARACHI: Sindh Health Minister, Dr Azra Fazal Pechuho, recently urged the federal government to give Sindh the authority to procure the corona vaccine to control the alarming rise in COVID-19 cases and related deaths in the province.
She expressed these views at a recent press conference held at the People’s Hall Sindh Secretariat Karachi. Information Minister, Syed Nasir Hussain Shah, and Director, International Center for Chemical and Biological Sciences ( ICCBS), University of Karachi, Dr Muhammad Iqbal Chaudhry, and others were also present on occasion.
Dr Azra Fazal Pechuho said that despite contact with the federal government regarding the corona vaccine, no schedule for the availability of the vaccine has come to light so far. We will be the last country in the world to have a delayed availability of vaccines. She demanded that the provinces be given the authority to procure vaccines so that the vaccination phase could be started at the provincial level.
The Provincial Minister stated that arrangements had been completed for the first phase of vaccination in Sindh. She added that Karachi University’s International Center for Chemical & Biological Sciences was the only institution in the country in which coronavirus is being profiled under genomic surveillance as mutations were observed in the deadly virus with the 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 the 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 spending on the treatment of corona patients, and we would also be able to better protect the lives of our health staff, said the Provincial Health Minister.
Dr Azra Pechuho said that the trials of the vaccine had been successfully completed, and its safety level has 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.
In response to a question, the Provincial Health Minister said that no negative effects had been reported so far in the trial of the 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 expenditures,” 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 the 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 the federal government wanted to take control of three hospitals in Sindh, but the expenses of these hospitals were still being incurred by the Sindh government.
On occasion, Provincial Information Minister, 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 occasion, ICCBS, Director, Dr Iqbal Chaudhry, said that it was initially said that there would be a 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, changes 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 the rest of the world. Genomic surveillance is being carried out all over the country following the directives of the Sindh Government.