Pak's new dilemna - how to secure a Covid vaccine

Edited By: Gravitas desk WION Web Team
New Delhi, Delhi, India Published: Jan 21, 2021, 11:34 PM(IST)

Representative image Photograph:( Reuters )

Story highlights

At a time when countries around the world have launched mass vaccination drives, Islamabad is still discussing how to get a vaccine. And its iron brother China isn't really helping.

Pakistan is facing a new dilemma these days -- how to source millions of doses to vaccinate its most vulnerable population.

At a time when countries around the world have launched mass vaccination drives, Islamabad is still discussing how to get a vaccine. And its iron brother China isn't really helping.

It so happened that when the coronavirus breached Cina's borders, Imran Khan reassured Pakistani citizens with this promise -- "aapne ghabraana nahin hai... (you don't have to panic)"

"You shouldn't panic. We are Muslims and it is our faith that life and death is in God's hands," he said.

"We will fully support you, and we will provide you the facilities and the equipment you need. We are preparing for it and will provide you the facilitates very soon."

It's been 10 months. But the Pakistani prime minister is yet to deliver on this promise.

Ten months -- and Pakistan still doesn't have the vaccine.

Because unlike other countries, Pakistan did not place orders well in advance with vaccine makers. And given its troubled equation with India, Islamabad hasn't reached out to New Delhi for help.

This is happening at a time when india is driving the world's largest vaccination programme not just for its own citizens, but also in the neighbourhood.

Shipments carrying Indian vaccines have landed in Myanmar, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, the Maldives, and Seychelles.

But Pakistan is reluctant to cooperate with India even for the sake of its citizens' health.

The result is this -- Islamabad will now have to pay as much as 7 dollars a dose, if they opt for the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine. This is roughly 1,200 pakistani Rs per dose.

And the money is not the only issue here. 

Pakistan's vaccine industry is highly under-developed. The country's sole authorised vaccine distributor, DRAP, is unable to give a timeline for deliveries.

And China isn't exactly helping.

In November 2020, thousands of Pakistani citizens flocked to join clinical trials of a Chinese vaccine. They were hopeful China would come to their rescue.

But two months on, the Chinese vaccine is still undergoing clinical trials.

But the question is even if pakistan manages to get a vaccine, what's the surety that Pakistani citizens will be willing to get a shot?

Because some in pakistan are already sowing seeds of doubt.

Some of them think the vaccine contains the DNA of pigs and monkeys. 

Some say it contains nano-bots that will enter our bodies and will provide intelligence about everything.

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