There have been wide-scale irregularities in the administration of COVID-19 vaccines in Pakistan’s Sindh province, including administering the Chinese Sinopharm vaccine to people over 60 years of age, non-frontline health workers and unrelated people, sources confirmed to The News International.
The administration of the Sinopharm vaccine on Saturday to the daughter and son-in-law of the former Sindh Governor and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader Mohammad Zubair is being widely reported in the country. The couple was reportedly administered the vaccine on February 6, at the Adult Vaccination Center of Ojha campus of Dow University of Health Sciences (DUHS), by a deputy district officer of the District East.
Sources have confirmed that for the last three days, the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) Islamabad has been receiving complaints of wide-ranging irregularities in the administration of coronavirus vaccine by the Sindh government due to which many “influentials but unrelated people” have benefitted, according to The News International.
According to the complaints, several non-frontline health workers, some influential people and their families were reportedly vaccinated in connivance with the officials of local health departments, besides those over 60 were also administered the vaccine. This is in stark contrast to the NCOC guidelines, which state that the vaccine cannot be given to anyone over 60 years or under 18 years.
Following the complaints, the Sindh health department swiftly suspended Deputy District Officer of the District East Dr Aneela Qureshi for allegedly violating the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) and helping non-healthcare workers in getting the COVID-19 vaccines.
“We have received clear instructions from NCOC, Islamabad that nobody above the age of 60 should be vaccinated with COVID-19 vaccine at Adult Vaccination Centers (AVCs). Today some senior health officials tried to get the vaccination but they were denied,” a senior official of the health department told The News International.
The Pakistani daily reported that senior healthcare workers above the age of 60 years have expressed their disappointment over the NCOC instructions that they should not be vaccinated with COVID-19 vaccine, arguing that people above 60 years were being vaccinated on priority basis in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and other countries with Chinese vaccine Sinopharm.