Pakistan govt lacks public support in fight against COVID-19 pandemic: Report

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Islamabad: Even though Pakistan’s medical infrastructure is crumbling under mounting pressure because of the adverse COVID-19 situation in the country, only a minuscule percentage of the Pakistani population actually wants to get vaccinated.

Writing for The Diplomat magazine, journalist Kunwar Khuldune Shahid said that people across the country continue to have reservations and are reluctant to get vaccinated as they fear something might happen to them because of it.

 “The government is providing vaccinations and spreading awareness, but people aren’t coming to get vaccinated. We have even started a door-to-door service, but people have their own reservations and are reluctant. Only the educated ones are getting vaccinated,” Dr. Waseem Baig, the coordinator of Balochistan’s COVID-19 vaccination cell, told The Diplomat.

 Baig said that health officials are spreading awareness through various mediums but still very few people are coming to get the vaccines.

According to Shahid, health experts in Pakistan attribute vaccine hesitancy to deep-rooted conspiracy theories that range from the “microchip implantation” notion to the more localised dubbing of the vaccinations being a part of a Western “anti-Islam” agenda.

 Aside from the conspiracy theories, locals nationwide have been skeptical of the government’s own sincerity when it comes to fighting the virus.

 “Many government officials are similarly seen flouting their own guidelines, as witnessed during last month’s Senate elections and by ministers of the ruling party who have openly shared images of private gatherings,” writes Shahid.

Expressing concern over the rapidly escalating COVID-19 situation in the country, Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari on Saturday accused the government of failing to secure vaccines in time.

Bilawal said that Prime Minister Imran Khan would have to account for every single rupee of the Coronavirus Relief Fund and asked him to tell the nation as to what happened to his so-called Tiger Force that had been formed last year to implement the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) in the country to curb the spread of COVID-19, reported Dawn.

The statement from the PPP chairman came a day after Imran Khan announced that army would be deployed to assist the police in enforcing the SOPs against COVID-19.

Bilawal further commented that the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) government was dragging its feet on ensuring the availability of vaccines in the country.

“If vaccination continues at the current rate, only 20 per cent of the population in Pakistan will be vaccinated in more than three years,” he said.

Stressing that mass vaccination was the only way to avoid economic problems caused by the pandemic, he further alleged that the people of Pakistan were suffering due to the complete failure of the PTI government to procure the vaccine in a timely manner.

Pakistan’s COVID-19 positivity ratio jumped to over 10 per cent on Sunday, a day after the country reported the highest number of deaths due to novel coronavirus.

As many as 5,611 fresh infections were reported in the last 24 hours, while 118 people succumbed to the virus in the same period, ARY News reported.