"Immunity develops a few weeks after the vaccine is given."
On March 20, 2021, it was announced that Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan had tested positive for Covid-19, just two days after he received a vaccine.
This comes as Pakistan experiences a third Covid-19 wave that has seen 620,000 infections and nearly 13,800 fatalities.
However, limited testing suggests that the actual figures are likely to be much higher.
Khan’s spokesman Shahbaz Gill stated that the PM was suffering from a mild fever and a mild cough. He added that the positive test came on March 20.
His aides were quick to put distance between the positive test and Khan’s first jab of the two-dose vaccine.
Gill said: “Please do not link it to the corona vaccine.
“Immunity develops a few weeks after the vaccine is given. Make sure to vaccinate your elders and loved ones. Be careful.”
According to information minister Shibli Faraz, Khan was probably infected before his vaccination, during a series of public engagements.
In a tweet, the PM’s advisor on health Faisal Sultan said that Khan is “self-isolating at home”.
He did not give further details as to whether other people who have been in contact with Khan would also be isolating.
Imran Khan had been holding regular meetings.
This included attending a security conference in Islamabad that was attended by a large number of people.
He addressed the conference without a mask and on March 19, 2021, Khan attended another gathering to inaugurate a housing project for poor people.
Khan received the Chinese-produced Sinopharm vaccine on March 18, one of over a million doses donated to Pakistan.
Earlier on March 20, Sultan said the increase in positive Covid-19 cases over the past few days was “alarming”.
He said there was a “quite visible” burden on the healthcare system, particularly in the province of Punjab.
Pakistan has largely avoided the kind of major lockdowns seen in other countries.
Instead, the country has opted for “smart” containment policies which see neighbourhoods closed off for short periods.
However, many rules have been ignored, with Sultan criticising “a lack of administrative action and a lack of public compliance”.
Shortly after the pandemic started, Imran Khan addressed the nation, telling people not to panic as “97 per cent of patients fully recover.”
However, just months later, Khan warned: “People are not taking it seriously.”
According to government figures, 3,876 people tested positive in the last 24 hours, the highest number of daily infections since early July 2020, taking the total number of infections in Pakistan past 620,000.
There were also 42 more deaths, taking the total to 13,799.
On March 10, 2021, Pakistan launched vaccinations for the general public, starting with elderly people after seeing a poor response from frontline health workers, who expressed concerns about Chinese vaccines.
Chinese Sinopharm and CanSinoBio, Russia’s Sputnik V and the UK’s Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines have been approved for emergency use in Pakistan.