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Pakistan secures 17m doses of AstraZeneca vaccine through COVAX

Country also likely to approve Russia's Sputnik V

Women with masks against COVID-19 walk outside a market in Karachi, Pakistan on Jan. 25.    © Reuters

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) -- Pakistan has secured 17 million doses of AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine under a global scheme to deliver coronavirus treatments to developing nations, a government health official said on Saturday.

About 6 million of the doses will arrive in the first quarter of 2021 under the COVAX scheme, with the remainder due by mid-year, Faisal Sultan, special assistant to the Prime Minister on National Health Services, said in a statement.

Pakistan signed up last year to the vaccine sharing scheme coordinated by the World Health Organization to support lower-income countries.

"We remain confident that we will meet our plan of large-scale immunization over the coming months this year," Sultan said.

Pakistan expects to receive 500,000 doses of a vaccine made by China National Pharmaceutical Group (SinoPharm) in coming days. It will launch a vaccination drive, which will initially target health workers, next week.

The South Asian nation of 220 million people also expects China to donate a further one million doses.

Having already approved the AstraZeneca and SinoPharm vaccines, Pakistan is also likely to approve Russia's Sputnik V, officials say, adding that the authorizations will be reviewed quarterly.

Pakistan reported 2,179 new infections and 65 deaths in the latest 24-hours, taking the total number of cases to 543,214, with 11,623 deaths.

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