Prime Minister’s Special Assistant on National Health, Dr Faisal Sultan has announced to start vaccination of senior citizens of 65 years old and above from next month against Covid-19. Talking to the media on Thursday, Dr Faisal Sultan said that people above 65 years of age would be given the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine that Pakistan is set to receive through the COVAX facility. He said that the World Health Organisation has approved it and that nearly 35 countries are using it, including the United Kingdom. “It is a safe vaccine.” He urged people above 65 years to get themselves registered for the vaccine as they are “an important part of the society”. The special assistant said that the vaccine that is being used to inoculate the frontline healthcare workers is from Sinopharm, adding that he recommends that it should not be used for people above 60 years. “It does not mean that this vaccine is not safe or is not effective,” he said, adding that the people who partook in the vaccine’s trials were not substantial, therefore, Pakistani medical experts advised that it should be used when enough data for people above 60 is available. The special assistant said that till March, Pakistan would receive 2.8 million doses of the vaccine. “This is a positive development as we will be able to kick-start our second phase.” The special assistant said the vaccination drive for frontline healthcare workers is continuing and now they can get themselves registered by sending their CNIC number to 1166 and visit any nearby immunization center instead of waiting for their turn. Dr Faisal Sultan said registration of general healthcare workers will commence from Monday for which a web portal will be updated soon. Furthermore, he said that more than 52,000 frontline healthcare workers have received the coronavirus vaccine across Pakistan. He said that the government considers the frontline healthcare workers as “ideals” — and it proves the vaccine’s efficacy and their trust in it. Speaking about the procedural changes made in registering for the vaccine, he said that if a frontline healthcare worker is less than 60-year-old, then they will now only have to send their CNIC number — without dashes — at 1166 and visit their nearest vaccination centre. The list is available on the National Command and Control Centre’s website. From February 22, the general healthcare workers would be able to register themselves through a website, and they will be able to receive the vaccine at their respective vaccination centres. Pakistan is also one of the first countries that plans to allow the private sector to conduct vaccinations and the drug regulator issued guidelines on Thursday for private companies to set up centres to administer COVID-19 vaccines. The private sector has an integral role in terms of ensuring safe and secure COVID-19 vaccinations in addition to the pubic sector, the drug regulator said in a notice announcing the guidelines. 52 More Die The coronavirus pandemic claimed 52 more lives during the past 24 hours, surging the overall death toll to 12,488, said the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) on Thursday. According to the NCOC, 1,272 fresh infections were reported during the aforementioned period and the national tally of cases has reached 567,261. The total count of active cases stands at 24,176, while 1,666 patients were stated to be in critical condition. In the past 24 hours, as many as 2,052 patients recovered while overall 530,597 people have recovered from the deadly disease so far. A total of 36,543 tests were conducted across the country during this period, while 8,567,761 samples have been tested so far. The coronavirus killed four more people in Sindh overnight, lifting the provincial death toll to 4,267 whereas 361 new infections emerged, taking the tally to 255,038. According to a statement issued from the CM House, 10,863 samples were tested, out of which 361 cases (3.3 percent) turned out to be positive. So far 2,914,327 tests have been conducted in the province while 238,030 patients have recovered, including 659 recovering overnight. Currently, 12,741 patients are under treatment, of them 12,286 are in home isolation, 10 at isolation centres and 445 at different hospitals. The condition of 406 patients was stated to be critical, 55 of them have been shifted to ventilators. Out of 361 new cases, 210 were reported from Karachi, including 62 from East district, 49 from Central district, 34 from South district, 32 from Malir district, 25 from West district and 8 from Korangi district. At least 516 new coronavirus cases were recorded in Punjab during the past 24 hours, taking the provincial tally to 165,719. According to the Punjab Primary and Secondary Health Care Department, at least 24 more patients succumbed to the pandemic as the total reached 5,138. The department added that at least 153,644 patients had recovered from the deadly virus as of yet. WHO In its latest update on the Covid-19 pandemic, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said that although the number of global infections have fallen by 16 percent in a week – 500,000 fewer cases – regions, including Europe, are still in the grip of the virus whose variants are spreading. The number of coronavirus deaths also declined in all regions by 10 per cent over the same period, with 81,000 fatalities reported in the last week, the UN health agency said in its weekly epidemiological update. This brings the overall number of people who died from Covid-19 to more than 2.3 million, according to WHO. Moreover, there were 2.7 million cases of new coronavirus infections last week, bringing that total number to just over 108 million. Five-out-of-six regions reported a double-digit percentage drop in the number of new cases, with Russia recording an 11 per cent decrease, the United States a 23 per cent drop and the United Kingdom a 27 percent fall. Only infections in the Eastern Mediterranean Region increased, by seven percent. The UN health agency data, which is gathered from its global membership, also said that the European and Americas regions continue to see the greatest drops in absolute numbers of Covid-19 cases.