PIA to airlift Covid vaccines from China

Karachi: Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) on Wednesday finalised arrangements to airlift another two million shots of Covid-19 vaccines from China.

A special plane will fly to Beijing this evening to bring the consignment to Pakistan.

Earlier this week, the airline had sought permission from the government to send its plane to China for the purpose.

Over the weekend, three PIA aircraft brought back a consignment of one million jabs from China.

“Three PIA Boeing 777 aircraft have brought one million doses. The aircraft had left for China on Saturday,” Arab News had quoted PIA spokesperson Abdullah Niazi as saying.

Another consignment of the vaccine will also be transported from China on April 29 [Thursday], Qadir Bux Sangi, PIA Country Manager for China, said at the time.

The government launched the nationwide Covid-19 vaccination for the general public, starting with older people, in March. The drive began with a focus on the oldest people in the community, generally over the age of 80.

The vaccination of people aged 50 and above began on April 21. The National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) had started a registration drive for people in the age group on March 30.

Last week, Minister of State for Health Dr Faisal Sultan announced that by the end of June, the government would have a stock of 17 million coronavirus vaccine jabs but stopped short of identifying the producer.

“The challenge [for the government] is to deploy and use them. The number of people who have registered is in the hundreds of thousands, not millions, yet we need to vaccinate 40 to 50 million by the end of this year,” he said in an interview.