China will provide 0.5 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine to the government of Pakistan by January 31, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said Thursday. “As goodwill gesture, China has pledged to hand over the batch of vaccine free of cost,” the foreign minister told media here, following his telephonic conversation with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi. Qureshi said the Chinese foreign minister informed him that Pakistan can send the cargo plane to airlift the batch of vaccine. Terming it a ‘welcoming development’ amid coronavirus situation, he said, “This is a very good news that we have received from our friend China,” he said. Qureshi said as Pakistan would be needing another 1.1 million doses for its frontline population, for which Chinese FM Wang Yi agreed to provide the required vaccine by the end of February. “In view of the strong strategic relations, China has considered Pakistan as the first country to be supplied with the Covid-19 vaccine,” he said. In a tweet, Qureshi suggested the doses to be provided to Pakistan will be of the Sinopharm vaccine, which the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (Drap) had approved for emergency use in the country earlier this week. “With encouraging results of Chinese vaccine and our historic relationship, Pakistan has approved emergency use authorisation of SinoPharm [vaccine]. Indeed, Pakistan greatly appreciates the 500,000 doses of the vaccine gifted by China,” he wrote. Qureshi also said he and Foreign Minister Wang had discussed that trials of Chinese firm CanSino’s vaccine in Pakistan were successfully moving forward and their results had been “quite encouraging”. “Pakistan has a huge population […] in order to fulfil its needs, we also discussed whether we can move forward together for this (CanSino) vaccine’s production and manufacturing in Pakistan after the completion of the new trials,” he said, adding that his Chinese counterpart had agreed to the proposal. The minister said the first batch arriving in Pakistan would be “grant assistance” for which the country would not have to pay anything. “This is a hand of goodwill and friendship that China has extended towards us and I am grateful to them,” he added. On Thursday, the national tally of total active Covid-19 cases in the country reached 35,293 as 2,363 more people tested positive for the deadly virus and 2,179 people recovered from the disease. Fifty-four patients, 47 of whom were under treatment in hospitals and seven in their homes or quarantines, died, according to the latest update issued by the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC). Most of the deaths occurred in Punjab, followed by the Sindh. Out of the total 54 deaths during last 24 hours 28 patients died on ventilators. The maximum ventilators were occupied in four major areas including Multan 49 percent, ICT 40 percent, Peshawar 30 percent and Lahore 37 percent. The maximum oxygen beds (alternate oxygen providing facility other than ventilator administered as per medical requirement of Covid-19 patient) was also occupied in four major areas of Peshawar 45 percent, Multan 38 percent, Karachi 39 percent and Rawalpindi 26 percent. Around 324 ventilators were occupied elsewhere in the country while no Covid-19 affected person was on ventilator in AJK and Balochistan. Some 43,744 tests were conducted across the country on Wednesday, including 13,632 in Sindh, 16,635 in Punjab, 6,234 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), 5,798 in Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT), 584 in Balochistan, 419 in GB, and 442 in AJK. Around 480,696 people have recovered from the disease so far across Pakistan making it a significant count with over 90 percent recovery ratio.