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Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said Thursday (January 21) China would send the first shipment of the COVID-19 vaccine to Pakistan by January 31, 2021, in what he termed was “good faith”.

Speaking to reporters here in the federal capital, Qureshi said: “Pakistan held fruitful talks with China with regard to obtaining the coronavirus vaccine.

“I had a lengthy discussion and spoke of Pakistan’s requirements. Then, Prime Minister Imran Khan advised me to engage in further interaction with them [China] keeping in mind the sensitive situation, time, and Pakistan’s requirements.

“I’m glad to tell you that I had a telephonic conversation with Chinese foreign minister. I wish to give this happy news to the nation that China has promised that, God-willing, it will send Pakistan 500,000 doses of the [coronavirus] vaccine by January 31,” he said, adding that it was an act of “good faith” and that Beijing planned to send more by February 2021.

Pakistan needs ‘additional 1.1m doses’

The foreign minister praised the National Command and Operations Centre (NCOC) for doing a “great job during the pandemic” and lauded the COVID-19 patients for their courage in the fight against the deadly virus.

“Pakistan successfully fought the coronavirus [pandemic],” he added.

China, Qureshi added, directed Pakistan to “send them our plane and airlift the vaccine; this is good news, a positive development”. He expressed gratitude to Beijing, he said, and “informed them that our requirements are more than that [500,000 doses]; we need an additional 1.1 million doses”.

China said the first country it thought to assist was Pakistan considering that the COVID-19 vaccines were designated as “global public good”, that it had vowed cooperation with entire world, and that Beijing-Islamabad had an “all-weather strategic relationship”, he underscored.

The CanSino Biologics trials

Qureshi said he and his Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi, spoke of the ongoing CanSino Biologics trials, which “are progressing here with quite encouraging results”.

“We also exchanged thoughts on collaboratively manufacturing and producing vaccine in Pakistan once the CanSinoBIO trials are successful and they indicated their willingness towards it.

“I’m also happy to highlight that this batch [of coronavirus vaccine] is part of China’s ‘grant assistance’ and they are not charging us for it.”

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