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$130m approved to purchase 10m vaccine doses by June 30

Inoculation of people over 18 years begins from Thursday

TOPSHOT - A health worker sanitizes bedding facility at a newly inaugurated naturopathy Covid-19 coronavirus treatment centre at a college in Chennai on May 31, 2021. (Photo by Arun SANKAR / AFP)

The government on Monday approved a $130 million grant (about Rs20 billion) to purchase 10m doses of the Covid-19 vaccine before June 30 while the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) opened vaccination for people over 18 years of age from Thursday.

This will be used to inoculate the target population of 72m against coronavirus.

Meanwhile, Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar said the government was aiming to vaccinate a maximum number of people before Eidul Azha to avoid imposing lockdown.

According to an official statement, the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet was specially called to provide a technical supplementary grant of $130 million (Rs20 billion) to the National Disaster Management Fund to ensure timely procurement of vaccines for an effective national response to the Covid-19 pandemic. The funds will be utilized for the procurement of 10m doses during June.

The decision was taken at a hurriedly-called single point ECC meeting presided over by Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin and attended by three, out of 14, other members.

The meeting decided to review the need for additional funds during the new financial year and make further allocations if required in the budget.

The National Coordination Committee (NCC) on Covid-19 led by Prime Minister Imran Khan on April 23, 2021, assigned the responsibility of vaccine procurement to the NDMA, which had been given the target of arranging doses for a population of 70 million by December 2021.

The meeting also advised the NDMA to explore the possibility of purchasing vaccines from external financial resources through the Economic Affairs Division. The option to reimburse the expenditure related to the procurement of doses through development partners may also be explored.

Asad Umar announced the decision to start vaccination of people over 18 years.

“In today’s NCOC meeting it was decided to start scheduling vaccination of registered 18 plus from Thursday the 3rd of June. With this step the vaccination of all eligible age groups would be carried out. Please register as soon as possible.”

In a tweet, Asad Umar, who also heads the NCOC, said.

Almost 100 percent of the population that can be inoculated has become eligible to receive the vaccine as a result of this decision and 39 million people in the age bracket of 18 to 30 years will benefit.

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