Pakistan's private vaccine sales reflect rich-poor divide

In May, around 18 healthcare workers were also suspended for accepting a bribe for the vaccine.

Pakistan is facing a severe shortage of anti-covid vaccines and thus the pace of vaccination is slow in the country. Chinese company Sinopharma and Russia are providing vaccines to Pakistan. However, long queues and the tight supply of vaccine has troubled the government’s free vaccination drive.

But, people say that there is no vaccine shortage in private clinics for rich people. The data of private sale of the vaccine has highlighted the rich-poor divide in the country. Where the poor are waiting for hours outside vaccination centers, rich people have easy access to vaccine. In May, around 18 healthcare workers were also suspended for accepting a bribe for the vaccine.

Even middle-class people are willing to bribe for vaccine due to shortage of doses in the country.

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Muhammad Nasir Chaudhary, a 35-year-old government consultant said that he discovered he could pay and get vaccines. He registered to take two doses of Russian Sputnik V for about $80 from a private hospital. It is quite a big amount of money in a country where the average worker makes about $110 per month.

Whereas Tehmina Sadaf who lives in Islamabad with her husband and 7 years old daughter says they are forced to wait for their number at the government center as they don’t have enough money to buy the vaccine.

Anger against Imran Khan government is raging in the country. Meanwhile, Information Minister Chaudhary Fawad Hussain has said that apart from Sputnik and Sinopharm, Pakistan is soon hoping to get 13 lakh of AstraZeneca vaccine. Also, the country will get 3.5 million additional doses of the Synovac vaccine by the end of May.

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