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UK adds Sinopharm and Sinovac to approved vaccine list

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The Bri­tish government on Tuesday said it had added Sinopharm, Sinovac and Covaxin Covid-19 vaccines to its approved list starting November 22.

British High Commissioner to Pakistan Christian Turner shared the update on Twitter and said it was “good news for Pakistani travellers”. The update means that travellers from Pakistan who have received the full doses of one of these three vaccines will be exempt from mandatory home quarantine, and now only require a test on day two.

Travellers must have proof of full vaccination with a full course of an approved vaccine. They must have had their final dose of the vaccine at least 14 days before arrival in England, and the day of the final dose does not count as one of the 14 days.

Prior to this announcement, travellers from Pakistan who had received these vaccines had to do home quarantine on arrival in the UK for 10 days.

Pakistan records lowest Covid positivity rate since March last year

Though the update will come as a relief to travellers, it does not include Sputnik in the approved list of vaccines. Sputnik is amongst the seven vaccines being administered in Pakistan, including Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca, Sinopharm, Sinovac and CanSino.

Lowest positivity rate

Pakistan on Tuesday reported the lowest positivity rate of coronavirus since it had started measuring it in March 2020. With 400 new cases, the positivity rate remained at 0.94 per cent, while 11 more patients died and 1,206 were in critical care, according to data of the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC).

According to a document available with Dawn, the coronavirus positivity rate was over 10pc in March last year. It climbed to the peak of 22.24pc in June 2020. Three months later with strict adherence to preventive measures, the positivity rate dropped to 1.75pc in September 2020 before its resurgence the following months.

In December, the positivity rate was 7.94pc, while it dropped again two months later to 3.3pc. It rose to 10pc in April and May this year. Similarly, the highest positivity rate of 8.23pc during the current wave was reported in August before it started declining and on Tuesday it was recorded at 0.94pc.

Talking to Dawn, Dr Javed Akram, member of the task force on Covid-19, termed it a positive development. “A major reason is vaccination, as vaccine has been administered to a significant portion of the population and focus remained on major cities where more cases were being reported. Similarly, infection has been reduced in healthcare workers.”

However, Dr Akram warned, it could not be said the pandemic had ended. “We need to strictly adhere to the standard operating procedures. Virus is very much present and chances of emergence of new variant cannot be rejected,” he said.

Meanwhile, Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiative Asad Umar, NCOC National Coordinator Major General Zafar Iqbal and Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Health Dr Faisal Sultan attended a session of the forum on Tuesday morning.

“The forum took a comprehensive review of the progress of nationwide vaccination drive and availability of vaccines in line with projected requirement in future. Expressing satisfaction over the current stability of the epidemic cure, the forum appreciated people of Pakistan for their responsible compliance with non-pharmaceutical interventions,” said a statement.

The NCOC praised the frontline healthcare workers, including doctors, paramedics and nursing staff for endangering their lives to save others from the hazards of the calamitous coronavirus.

Published in Dawn, November 10th, 2021

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