THE culture of law that prevails in this society seems to have weakened, even during a national health crisis. Reports have revealed that 1,400 doses of the vaccine in three government hospitals in Lahore Mayo, Services and Mozang are said to have disappeared or have been given to unauthorized persons, while many vials have deteriorated. At Mozang University Hospital, 350 doses of the vaccine were spoiled, allegedly due to improper storage, for which the medical director was suspended for extreme ineffectiveness. Vaccines at all three hospitals have been provided to immunize healthcare professionals, many of whom are still waiting for their turn. Several reports have also surfaced on social media that families of celebrities and politicians have been vaccinated against Covid-19. Many have been cheeky enough to post videos of themselves receiving the jab.
However, that doesn’t mean that people eligible for vaccines, including healthcare professionals and citizens over 60, are signing up in droves. Registration, which has recently opened for 50+ years, has been slow and only a tiny percentage of those eligible for inoculation are on track to receive it. So far, only 0.8 million doses of the vaccine have been administered. Pakistan last week received its first two shipments of purchased vaccines totaling one million doses. According to government officials, orders for millions more will be finalized in the coming months. It’s reassuring, but an effective campaign to motivate people to get vaccinated is badly needed. Too many people are still sitting on the fence, prone to risk infection rather than trusting science. It is unfortunate that Prime Minister Imran Khan and President Arif Alvi were diagnosed with Covid-19 after their first doses of the vaccine. Vaccine skeptics will likely see this as evidence of drug ineffectiveness. Such disinformation must be firmly combated with facts; it takes up to two weeks after receiving the second jab for immunity to kick in.
The third wave of Covid-19 is tearing through the country, particularly in the Punjab and KP, making it all the more essential as the vaccination campaign gains traction. In most urban centers, apart from Karachi, the positivity rate is well over 10%; last week it was 17% in Lahore and 15% in Rawalpindi and Faisalabad. On Saturday, out of 55,605 tests carried out, 5,020 people tested positive, the second highest figure this year. Eighty-one patients succumbed to the disease. In light of these frightening statistics which led the UK to put Pakistan on a red list, restrictions in most provinces have been tightened even further. When masks in public places are mandatory, fines should be imposed on the spot so that people realize they have no choice but to take SOPs seriously. It is only through collective action that we can win this battle.
Posted in Dawn on April 5, 2021
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