Lessons from the Response to the Pandemic in Pakistan
Editor David Boan
Stores provided by Zoone Hassan, Pak Mission Society
One of the questions we encounter when inviting people to support Covax is whether people in the Majority World* are willing to be vaccinated. Since the Majority World is not one place or a people with one experience, we offer stories from different countries as a way to illustrate what is happening around the world. The experience of the people of Pakistan is one such story.
When the pandemic started Pakistan was seen as a likely Covid hot spot for many reasons, including culture, limited infrastructure, poverty, and the widely held view that the Covid virus was not real. The government however responded aggressively, closing the borders, banning mass gatherings, and establishing a national pandemic command and coordination center. According to Zafar Mirza, head of the Pakistan Ministry of Health, establishing the command center was the single most important action taken to fight the pandemic. It standardized Pandemic messages and created coordination between civil, military, and media centers. Part of that effort included Pakistan being among the first countries to join the Covax initiative. As a result, Pakistan is working closely with UNICEF Pakistan to acquire vaccines and develop the infrastructure, including cold storage, necessary to manage and store vaccines.
Importantly, this early and coordinated effort by the government led to effectively countering misinformation and generating support among the people of Pakistan for the government’s action. As a result, Pakistan did not become the hotspot that had been predicted and it has successfully managed the two waves of rising infections. The effort also impacted views of vaccination among the general population. Recent surveys have found the rate of acceptance of vaccination ranging from 70% to 87% of the population.
Currently (October 2021), infection rates in Pakistan are falling. According to Reuters, Pakistan has administered at least 100,741,762 doses of COVID vaccines so far. Assuming every person needs 2 doses, that’s enough to have vaccinated about 23.3% of the country’s population.
The following personal accounts of Covid infection and recovery have been provided by the Pakistan Mission Society, and provide a personal perspective on life with Covid in Pakistan.
Pastor Nabeel Khan on being infected with Covid.
Saima William of Pak Mission Society on Covid infection
- The term majority world refers to the world where the majority of people live. It is preferred over the more common terms “developing world” and “third world” which are seen as hierarchical labels that suggest the “developed world” or “first world” is superior.
Pakistan Government Covid Information Site
Pak Mission Society
UNICEF in Pakistan