"Punjab will be the first province to buy a gene-sequencing machine"
To help identify new strains of Covid-19, Punjab will be the first province to buy a gene-sequencing machine in Pakistan.
On Thursday, January 28, 2021, Chief Minister Usman Buzdar has approved funds worth Pakistani Rs 50 million to place an order for genetic sequencing technology for the provincial health department.
Captain Muhammad Usman Younis, secretary of the primary and secondary healthcare department, said:
“Punjab will be the first province to buy a gene-sequencing machine.”
Gene-sequencing technology is used to determine the entire genomic sequence of an organism.
The machine will improve the investigation of new Covid-19 variants responsible for the second wave of Pakistan’s pandemic.
First detected in the UK, South Africa, and Brazil, in December, the Sindh health department detected the new B.1.1.7 coronavirus variant in three passengers from the UK.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has urged all the countries to increase genome sequencing efficiency to fight the emerging variants.
Punjab has not registered any new variant of Covid-19 case yet, but this development marks a significant step forward for the province’s Covid-19 strategy.
Before, only the Islamabad-based National Institute of Health had a gene-sequencing machine. This meant sending the samples collected from positive patients in Punjab to the federal laboratory for reading.
On Wednesday, January 27, 2021, a vaccination plan was revealed by the National Command and Operation Center(NCOC).
Asad Umar, the Minister for Planning and Development, announced that the plan will be implemented next week, and the frontline workers will be the first ones to get the vaccine.
“The system for vaccination is in place.
“Hundreds of vaccination centres in the country will be administering the covid vaccine.
“InshaAllah the vaccination of frontline workers will start next week.”
Last week, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi thanked China for providing half a million doses of its Sinopharm Covid-19 vaccine as a gift to Pakistan by the end of January.
Another 1.1 million doses will arrive in February 2021.
Qureshi also recognised China’s key role in Pakistan’s fight against Covid-19 with “technical assistance and medical expertise.”.
Qureshi said: “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.”
Pakistan has been dealing with many vaccine makers. The federal government has also allowed both the private sector and the provinces to procure vaccines on their own, subject to approvals.