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Pakistan Receives First Shipment of COVID Vaccine From China

 Pakistan received its first doses of the coronavirus vaccine, and China donated half a million doses of the Sinopharm vaccine to the country, the health minister says.

A Pakistani military plane carrying the cargo landed in the Pakistani capital, Islamabad, early Monday, said Dr. Faisal Sultan.

“Praise Allah, the first batch of the Sinopharm vaccine has arrived! Thankful to China and everyone who made this happen, ”he said.

Pakistan Receives First Shipment of COVID Vaccine From China

Video footage showed a forklift unloading boxes of the vaccine from a military transport plane.

Sinopharm, a Chinese state-owned company, has developed one of the two main Chinese vaccines that have been rolled out around the world, alongside Sinovac's Coronavac vaccine.

Phase three trials for the Chinese CanSino vaccine are also under way in Pakistan, which granted emergency use authorization for the Sinopharm, AstraZeneca and Sputnik V vaccines last month.

"It is currently among the top 10 candidate vaccines nearing the end of clinical trials on the WHO list," says his website.

Sinopharm's shipment on Monday marks the first vaccines to be imported into the South Asian country of 220 million people, where more than 546,000 cases of the coronavirus have been recorded since the pandemic began.

At least 11,785 people have died from the virus, with a daily number of cases averaging 1,800 over the past two weeks, according to official data.

The first doses of the vaccine will be provided to more than 400,000 frontline healthcare workers across the country, according to the government's vaccine implementation plan.

After that, vaccines will be provided to citizens over 65, who generally face an increased risk of mortality from the virus.

More vaccines to come

Pakistan will receive an additional 1.1 million doses of the coronavirus vaccine from China later this month, the country's foreign minister said in January.

It was not clear if those doses would be of the Sinopharm, Sinovac or CanSino vaccine.

In an exclusive interview with Al Jazeera last month, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said that China was also considering starting CanSino vaccine production in Pakistan if phase three trials were successful.

In addition to the doses from China, Pakistan has also secured the supply of 17 million doses of Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine through COVAX, a global initiative of the Gavi vaccine alliance, Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), the Organization World Health and others.

Up to 6.8 million doses of those vaccines are expected to reach Pakistan before the end of March, Pakistani Health Minister Sultan said on Saturday.

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