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Pakistan receives 1st vaccines through COVAX

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ISLAMABAD — Pakistan on Saturday received its first supply of COVID-19 vaccines through the U.N.-backed COVAX initiative, over 1.2 million doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine.

The prime minister’s special aide on health, Dr. Faisal Sultan, asked people over age 40 to register for shots and said the Pakistani government would soon be able to expand its immunization program to other age groups.

A statement issued by Pakistan’s National Command and Operations Center said that 1,238,400 vaccine doses arrived in the first COVAX allocation while another batch of 1,236,000 was expected to arrive in a few days.

The delivery of first consignment of vaccine is the product of an unprecedented global partnership to ensure no country is left behind in the global race to fight the coronavirus, said Alexa Reynolds, the senior manager for Pakistan from Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, one of the partner’s in the COVAX initiative.

Pakistan is in the middle of a third wave of virus infections, which authorities say is worse than the previous two. The country reported 120 deaths and 4,105 new confirmed cases on Saturday ahead of a planned weeklong closure of all businesses and transportation.

Since last year, Pakistan has reported 18,797 deaths from COVID-19 among 854,240 confirmed cases.

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