Such is the efficacy and reliability of the Chinese vaccines that even China’s client state, Pakistan is averse to using the vaccine for its population. After China’s People’s Liberation Army donated a batch of Chinese vaccines to the Pakistan Army, the latter conveniently dumped it under the garb of ‘donating’ it to the national vaccine drive.
China in its desperate bid to salvage its vaccine diplomacy, attempted to beat the drums over how Pakistan Army has become the first foreign military to receive the COVID-19 vaccine aid from the Chinese military.
Instead of vaccinating its military personnel, the Pakistan Army dumped the ‘gift’ from China by pushing the Chinese vaccines to the health workers.
“However, keeping with the Pakistani armed forces’ traditional spirit of ‘nation comes first, always and every time’ it has been decided to contribute the complete donation to the national vaccination drive [for] frontline healthcare workers across Pakistan who are the real heroes fighting against the pandemic and saving precious lives,” read Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Director General Major General Babar Iftikhar’s statement.
Reading between the lines, one can clearly see how this was a clever way to dump the Chinese vaccines. Last week, Pakistan had already received 5 lakh doses of China’s Sinopharm vaccines with the country slated to receive further 1.1 million doses of the Sinopharm vaccine by the end of the month which will be suffice to vaccinate approximately 400,000 doctors and frontline healthcare workers residing in the country.
Clearly, the Pakistan Army doesn’t want to take any risks as they are seemingly aware about the questionable quality of the Sinopharm vaccines and hence have decided to use the country’s frontline workers as guinea pigs.
Pakistan has been averse to using the Chinese vaccines and have made numerous attempts to procure Made in India vaccines. Pakistan has not only given emergency use approval to the Covishield vaccine which is manufactured by the Serum Institute of India, it is also procuring Covishield through Covax – global alliance for helping poor countries get vaccines.
While countries across the world move at a breakneck speed to procure the cure, Pakistan, as usual, is reliant on donations from the United Nations to receive 45 million vaccine doses at no cost. Even then, the country will only be able to vaccinate of its population. For the remaining population, Pakistan is hoping to secure Made in India vaccines – Covishield and Covaxin through bilateral agreements and third countries.
However, knocking India’s door for vaccines will be politically disastrous for the Imran Khan government, and hence, Pakistan is forced to accept the Chinese vaccine as its the country’s only option especially considering the fact that Pakistan has little money to purchase the vaccines and will have to rely on donations.