Global public health experts and virologists agree that Covid9 is still here and the best way to tackle this pandemic is a combination of healthcare measures (masking, social distancing, etc) along with continued testing and widespread vaccinations. Yet, it appears that once again, the Pakistani government believes that everything is good and we can remove all restrictions.
Pakistan’s response to Covid has remained abysmal: denial in the beginning, followed by limited testing, reluctance to impose restrictions, and now scarce vaccinations. Even today, testing remains abysmally low at around 30,000 and 40,000 daily. For a population of over 200m, of which 70m have been identified as potential vaccine recipients, this is a tragedy.
As an Editorial in Dawn notes, “the weeks ahead present a new challenge for the government. As schools, cinemas and mass indoor gatherings such as weddings begin to return to the pre-Covid era, a successful vaccine roll-out is imperative.” Further, “a successful programme hinges on a public awareness programme, a streamlined monitoring and distribution strategy and transparent communication. Healthcare workers in some areas have shown reluctance citing several concerns, including fears about side effects and lack of information about efficacy.”
Finally, the government must do more to raise awareness and build confidence so that people understand that the benefits of getting the vaccine outweigh the perceived risks. Secondly, systems in place from past vaccination programmes must be made use of. Third, a daily update on vaccinations is imperative, as it will not only build transparency but also reinforce the idea of how central the vaccine is to resuming normal activities.”