No respite in corona strikes as Pakistan launches vaccination drive
As Pakistan launched its coronavirus vaccination campaign with the first jab administered to a doctor in Islamabad, another 56 people lost their lives to Covid-19 whereas 1,384 new cases were reported during the last 24 hours (Tuesday), showed the figures released by the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) on Wednesday morning.
As per the latest NCOC data, the country’s death toll from coronavirus has surged to 11,802 with the addition of 56 new ones while the number of total infections stood at 549,032. As of Wednesday, the total count of active cases in hospitals throughout the country is 33,184.
During the past 24 hours (Tuesday), as many as 1,509 patients have recovered from the virus and 2,016 patients were still in critical condition. The number of total recoveries stood at 504,046.
As usual, Sindh remained the worst-hit province by the pandemic in terms of cases followed by Punjab and other provinces.
So far, 248,270 coronavirus cases have been confirmed in Sindh, 158,793 in Punjab, 67,589 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 41,561 in Islamabad, 18,836 in Balochistan, 9,073 in Azad Jammu and Kashmir and 4,910 in Gilgit-Baltistan.
As many as 4,806 individuals have lost their lives to the coronavirus in Punjab, 4,033 in Sindh, 1,923 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 475 in Islamabad, 267 in Azad Jammu and Kashmir, 196 in Balochistan and 102 in Gilgit Baltistan.
The first dose of the vaccine was given to a healthcare worker in presence of the prime minister, his special assistant Dr Faisal Sultan, and National Command and Operations Centre chief Asad Umar.
Speaking at the ceremony marking the launch of the drive, the premier congratulated his government's health team for moving rapidly to secure the vaccine and thanked China for donating 500,000 doses of the Sinopharm vaccine to Pakistan.
He reiterated that the vaccine will be first administered to health workers working with Covid-19 patients, followed by the elderly in the high-risk age group. "This (vaccine) is being distributed equitably among all the provinces so no one thinks we've provided more of it to one province," he said.
Here are the latest developments in the coronavirus crisis:
- Astrazeneca for under 65s -
France's top health authority clears AstraZeneca's Covid-19 vaccine for use, but advises against giving it to people over 65.
Swedish health officials also recommend that the vaccine primarily be used for those under 65, citing a lack of evidence for its efficacy among the elderly.
- Russian jab has 'high efficacy' -
Russia's Sputnik V vaccine is 91.6 percent effective against symptomatic Covid-19, says an analysis published in The Lancet.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel says all vaccines "are welcome" in the EU once they have received regulatory approval, and says that she had recently spoken to President Vladimir Putin about the Russian vaccine.
- 100 million vaccinated -
More than 100 million vaccines have been given around the world, an AFP tally from official sources found Tuesday.
But none of the world's 29 poorest countries has formally started mass vaccination drives, while the richest nations have provided more than two-thirds of jabs administered.
- $15 billion Pfizer sales -
Sales of the Covid-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech could reach up to $15 billion in 2021 and go higher if Pfizer signs additional supply contracts, Pfizer says.
- Novavax jab -
American firm Novavax will become the first to manufacture a Covid-19 vaccine in Canada, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says.
- Palestinians begin vaccinations -
The Palestinian Authority begins vaccinating its health workers in the occupied West Bank against Covid-19 after receiving doses from Israel, which has faced mounting global pressure to help Palestinians to gain access to vaccines.
- Vietnam cluster -
A fresh cluster of 12 coronavirus cases in Vietnam was caused by the British variant, authorities say, as they rush to contain the country's most serious ever outbreak.
- Netherlands extends curbs -
The Netherlands extends many coronavirus measures until March 2 due to concerns over the "rapid rise" of a variant first identified in Britain, Prime Minister Mark Rutte says, adding a curfew that is due to run until February 10 will be reviewed following the advice of scientists.
- Exxon Mobil hit -
US oil company Exxon Mobil suffered a 2020 loss of $22.4 billion in the wake of lower oil prices amid the Covid-19 crisis.
- UK lockdown hero dies -
Captain Sir Tom Moore, the British World War II veteran who raised a record-breaking £33 million ($45 million, 37.4 million euros) for healthcare charities during last year's coronavirus lockdown dies of Covid aged 100.
- Real Madrid chief positive -
Real Madrid president Florentino Perez, 73, has tested positive for coronavirus, the reigning Spanish champions announce, saying he "is not presenting any symptoms".
- More than 2.2 million dead -
The coronavirus has killed more than 2,237,990 people since the outbreak emerged in China in December 2019, according to an AFP tally based on official sources.
The countries with the most deaths are the US on 443,365, Brazil 225,099 and Mexico 159,100.
The global death toll, calculated from official daily figures published by national health authorities, is an underestimate and does not include later revisions by statistics agencies.
With inputs from AFP.