Thursday, March 4, 2021

Punjab to get its first genome sequencing machine to detect newfound virus strains

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Punjab is likely to get a genome sequencing machine to detect the newfound variants of the Covid-19 vaccine. Chief Minister of Punjab, Usman Buzdar, has reportedly approved funds worth 50 million for Punjab’s health department. The approved amount will enable the health department to buy the sequencing machine.

“Punjab will be the first province to buy a genome sequencing machine,” stated the Secretary of the Primary and Secondary Healthcare Department, Capt (r) Muhammad Usman Younis.

Read more: 14 Covid-19 vaccination centers established across the Sindh province

Currently, Pakistan’s only genome sequencing machine is in Islamabad at the National Institute of Health.

The newfound variants of Covid-19 that have been detected in England, South Africa, and Brazil are reportedly more transmissible, hence, more dangerous. The machine will enable the provincial government to detect the new variant as well as to take appropriate measures to curb it from spreading further.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has advised all the countries to improve their genome sequencing technology to halt the new variants from spreading.

Read more: India will supply Covid-19 vaccines globally: PM Modi

On 27th January, a comprehensive Covid-19 vaccination plan was revealed by the National Command and Operation Center (NCOC). Asad Umar, the Minister for Planning and Development took to Twitter to announce that the process of vaccine administration will begin next week, and the frontline workers will be the first ones to get the vaccine.

He wrote “The system for vaccination is in place. Hundreds of vaccination centers in the country will be administering the covid vaccine. InshaAllah the vaccination of frontline workers will start next week.”

Read more: A treatment that cures Covid-19 in 10 days developed by a Pakistani-Russian scientist

Last week, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi announced that China will provide half a million doses of its Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine as a gift to Pakistan by the end of this month.

“Always great to speak to my friend, His Excellency FM Wang Yi… Pakistan greatly appreciates the 500,000 doses of the vaccine gifted by China,” he said in a tweet.

Qureshi added that China has played an instrumental role in Pakistan’s fight against COVID-19 with “technical assistance and medical expertise.”

Read more: Pakistan to get half a million Covid-19 vaccine doses as a gift from China

In a separate statement, the foreign minister said his Chinese counterpart has assured that another 1.1 million doses will arrive in Pakistan in February.

The country’s drug regulatory authority has also approved the Chinese vaccine for emergency use, two days after the vaccine developed by Oxford-AstraZeneca received a similar authorization.

Pakistan has been engaging with a number of vaccine makers, according to the adviser of health Faisal Sultan. The federal government has also allowed the private sector and the provinces to procure vaccines on their own, subject to relevant approvals.

Read more: WHO’s initiative to provide Covid-19 vaccine to poor nations, to be joined by the US

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