| 3 March 2024, Sunday |

Pakistan allows AstraZeneca shot for under 40s to help its expatriates

A prohibition prohibiting the use of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccination by people under the age of 40 has been abolished in Pakistan, according to a health official, in order to help inoculate persons who need to travel overseas for education or work, particularly in Saudi Arabia.

Pakistan, which relies largely on remittances from its expatriate employees in Saudi Arabia, has mostly employed Chinese vaccines in its immunization effort — Sinopharm, CanSinoBio, and Sinovac — and has only utilized AstraZeneca for people over 40.

The Saudi authorities have not approved the Chinese shots, so people with only those vaccinations still need to quarantine, which is unaffordable for many, Faisal Sultan, a health adviser to the prime minister, said.
“From today, we have lifted the restriction

for use of AstraZeneca for below 40 years,” Sultan told private news channel Geo television on Tuesday.
Saudi Arabia has approved four COVID-19 vaccines for arrivals wanting to avoid quarantine, namely AstraZeneca, Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson and Johnson.

Under the COVAX program, Pakistan has gotten 1.2 million doses of AstraZeneca.
Sultan stated that the administration is working through diplomatic channels to determine whether Saudi Arabia will authorize Chinese vaccinations in the future.

Official numbers reveal that as of June 11, 1.3 percent of Pakistan’s 220 million people had got full vaccination and 3.8 percent had got at least one shot, largely from Sinopharm or Sinovac.

Saudi Arabia is Pakistan’s greatest source of remittances, which it relies on to keep its current account afloat due to the country’s massive trade deficit.

Pakistan received $7 billion in remittances from Saudi Arabia in the current fiscal year, accounting for more than a quarter of total remittances.

  • Reuters