AS the third Covid-19 wave rages in the country, With infection rates rising, school closures and new restrictions, the authorities must put all their resources into making the vaccine roll-out successful. Unfortunately, at present, certain decisions regarding the inoculation drive betray a non-serious approach. For example, the decision to keep vaccination centres closed on Sundays and public holidays is absurd.
The reason being given is that those involved in the vaccination process need a break. Without doubt, no individual should work without a break, but that is a poor excuse for interrupting the vaccine roll-out. By this logic, should hospitals also close on public holidays and weekends? The answer is no, because addressing a health crisis cannot be put on hold. Covid-19 will not stop spreading, and is, in fact, being transmitted at an alarming rate, so the approach of the authorities must reflect the urgency of the situation.
In the UK, where the vaccine roll-out has been successful, the authorities have called on volunteers to be part of the immunisation programme. The idea is that the target of vaccinating the country’s entire adult population is an imperative, even if gargantuan, task, and requires a mammoth effort. The authorities in Pakistan too must gear up to vaccinate people seven days a week, up to 18 hours a day. With the government’s target vaccine population of 70m, the task of administering two jabs per person is a challenge that can only be met if the programme is executed with a sense of urgency.
So far, only 500,000 people have been vaccinated — a figure that paints a sorry picture. The vaccines that are available for free at vaccination centres have been donated by China. Another donation is pledged by Covax, but is yet to arrive. Separately, private companies have been allowed to import vaccines and sell them at a set price. In December last year, it was reported that the government had put aside $100m to procure the Covid-19 vaccine, but it is not clear whether these funds are being used effectively. Vaccines have been procured by the government, but they have yet to arrive. The vaccine programme warrants a proactive approach, or Pakistan will be among those countries where the spectre of Covid-19 peaks rears its head on a regular basis, spelling doom for the well-being of citizens as well as education and the economy.