Pakistan okays use of Sinopharm vaccine for people over 60

A health worker handles a vial of the Sinopharm Group Co. COVID-19 vaccine in the Adult Vaccination Center at the Dow University Hospital in Karachi, Pakistan, on Feb 3, 2021. (PHOTO / AFP)

CANBERRA / ULAN BATOR – Pakistan on Friday approved the emergency use of Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine for people over 60 years of age, a statement by the National Command and Operation Center (NCOC) said.

The Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan allowed all registered healthcare workers with the national institute of medical sciences who are above 60 years old to get themselves vaccinated from designated vaccine centers, an NCOC statement read.

It is phase two of the vaccination process in Pakistan. In phase one, the country inoculated the Sinopharm vaccine to its frontline medical staff. The vaccine doses were donated by China earlier last month to help the country fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.


Australia has asked the European Commission to review a decision by Italy to block a shipment of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine, while stressing on Friday the missing doses would not affect the rollout of Australia’s inoculation programme.

Italy, supported by the European Commission, barred the planned export of around 250,000 doses of AstraZeneca’s vaccine after the drug manufacturer failed to meet its European Union contract commitments.

“Australia has raised the issue with the European Commission through multiple channels, and in particular we have asked the European Commission to review this decision,” Australian Health Minister Greg Hunt told reporters in Melbourne.

Hunt said Australia had already received 300,000 doses of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine, which would last until local production of the vaccine ramps up.

Australia began its inoculation programme two weeks ago, vaccinating frontline health staff and senior citizens with Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine though doses of that vaccine are limited amid tight global supplies.

AstraZeneca did not immediately reply to a request for comment. AstraZeneca did not immediately reply to a request for comment.


Japanese supercomputer simulations showed that wearing two masks gave limited benefit in blocking viral spread compared with one properly fitted mask.

The findings in part contradict recent recommendations from the U.S. Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that two masks were better than one at reducing a person’s exposure to the coronavirus.

Researchers used the Fugaku supercomputer to model the flow of virus particles from people wearing different types and combinations of masks, according to a study released on Thursday by research giant Riken and Kobe University.

Using a single surgical-type mask, made of non-woven material, had 85% effectiveness in blocking particles when worn tightly around the nose and face. Adding a polyurethane mask on top boosted the effectiveness to just 89%.

Wearing two non-woven masks isn’t useful because air resistance builds up and causes leakage around the edges.The Japanese government plans to extend a state of emergency to combat COVID-19 for Tokyo and three neighboring prefectures until March 21, two weeks longer than originally scheduled, Economy Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura said on Friday.

Under the state of emergency, the government has requested restaurants and bars close by 8 pm and stop serving alcohol an hour earlier. People are also asked to stay home after 8 pm unless they have essential reasons to go out.


Turkey on Thursday reported 11,322 new COVID-19 cases, including 685 symptomatic patients, as the total number of positive cases in the country reached 2,746,158.

The death toll from the virus in Turkey rose by 68 to 28,839, while the total recoveries climbed to 2,601,137 after 7,873 more cases recovered in the last 24 hours, according to the Turkish health ministry.

The rate of pneumonia in COVID-19 patients stands at 3.6 percent and the number of seriously ill patients is 1,220 in the country, said the ministry.

A total of 137,885 tests have been conducted over the past day, with the overall number of tests done in Turkey reaching 33,716,746.


Kuwait’s government decided on Thursday to impose a partial curfew as part of its efforts to curb the COVID-19 spread, the government spokesman Tareq Al-Mezrem said.

At a press conference held Thursday evening, Al-Mezrem said that the partial curfew will start on Sunday from 5 p.m. local time (1400 GMT) to 5 a.m., until April 8.

All commercial activities will be suspended during the curfew time, he said, adding that the government decided to prevent non-Kuwaitis from entering the country until further notice.

In addition, the government also decided to close parks and allow restaurants and cafes to serve through delivery only.

Kuwait has imposed a partial curfew as daily cases jumped to the highest on record. The curfew comes into force from March 7 between 5 a.m. and 5 p.m. for a month, the Council of Ministers said in a statement. The Gulf nation reported 1,716 new cases on Thursday, taking the total to 196,497 with 1,105 deaths.

ALSO READ: Israel sees drop in severe COVID-19 cases


 Israel’s Ministry of Health reported 3,817 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday, raising the total tally in the country to 792,686.

The death toll from the COVID-19 in Israel reached 5,821 after 19 new fatalities were added, while the number of patients in serious condition decreased from 717 to 699, out of 1,137 hospitalized patients.

The total recoveries in Israel rose to 745,731, with 4,997 newly recovered cases, while the number of active cases decreased to 41,134.

The number of people vaccinated against COVID-19 in Israel have surpassed 4.88 million, or 52.5 percent of its total population, since the vaccination campaign began on Dec. 20, 2020.


The Qatari Health Ministry on Thursday announced 475 new COVID-19 infections, raising the total number of confirmed cases in the Gulf state to 165,546.

Meanwhile, 318 more people recovered from the virus, bringing the overall recoveries in Qatar to 155,070, while the total fatalities remained at 260 for the second day running, the ministry said in a statement quoted by the official Qatar News Agency (QNA).


Lebanon registered on Thursday 3,369 new COVID-19 cases, raising the total number of infections to 386,851, the Lebanese Health Ministry reported.

Meanwhile, the total number of coronavirus deaths in Lebanon went up by 53 to 4,919.

Firas Abiad, director of Rafic Hariri University Hospital, urged on Thursday Lebanese authorities to control borders in a bid to reduce the spread of the pandemic.

“During pandemics, border control is an essential element of national public health policy,” he tweeted.

He also called upon the authorities to enforce quarantine for the people arriving in Lebanon since many of them do not respect voluntary self-isolation. 


The Iraqi Ministry of Health reported on Thursday 5,043 new COVID-19 cases, raising the total nationwide infections to 713,994.

The new cases included 1,729 in the Iraqi capital Baghdad, 972 in Basra, 465 in Najaf, 275 in Qadisiyah, and 269 in Karbala, while the remaining cases were detected in other provinces, the ministry said in a statement.

It also reported 24 new deaths, raising the death toll to 13,507, while the total recoveries in Iraq climbed by 3,396 to 650,015.

A total of 7,008,505 tests have been carried out across the country since the outbreak of the disease, with 45,235 done during the day.

READ MORE: Thailand mulls ‘vaccine passports’ to boost tourism


The Omani health ministry on Thursday announced 369 new COVID-19 infections, raising the total number of confirmed cases in the country to 142,896, the official Oman News Agency reported.

Meanwhile, 353 people recovered during the past 24 hours, taking the overall recoveries to 133,491, while no new death was reported, keeping the tally at 1,583, according to a ministry statement quoted by ONA.


A trial on the COVID-19 vaccine produced by China’s Anhui Zhifei Longkema Biological Pharmaceutical will enroll as many as 4,000 participants in Bandung and Jakarta, CNN Indonesia reports.

Approval for an emergency use of the vaccine is expected in September, CNN reports.


The number of COVID-19 cases in Myanmar has increased to 142,000 as of Thursday, according to a release from the Ministry of Health and Sports.

A total of 16 newly confirmed COVID-19 cases were reported in the country on Thursday.

One more COVID-19 death was reported on Thursday, bringing the death toll to 3,200, the release said.

According to the ministry’s figures, a total of 131,571 patients have been discharged from hospitals and over 2.49 million samples have been tested for COVID-19 so far.

A total of 1,618 samples were tested for COVID-19 on Thursday, down from around 10,000 samples tested daily in the first week of last month.


Mongolia registered 77 new COVID-19 cases in the last 24 hours, the highest daily increase since the pandemic hit the country, bringing its national tally to 3,153, the country’s National Center for Communicable Diseases said Friday.

The latest cases were locally transmitted, and detected in the country’s capital Ulan Bator, the center said in a statement.

Among the cases, 76 were found in people who had close contact with previously confirmed cases, while the source of the remaining one has not yet been identified, according to the center.

South Korea

South Korea reported 398 more cases of COVID-19 as of midnight Thursday compared to 24 hours ago, raising the total number of infections to 91,638.

The daily caseload fell below 400 in three days, but it stayed in the 300s and 400s since mid-February.

The daily number of infections hovered above 100 since Nov. 8 owing to small cluster infections in Seoul and its surrounding Gyeonggi province as well as imported cases.

Of the new cases, 129 were Seoul residents and 168 were people residing in Gyeonggi province.


India’s COVID-19 tally rose to 11,173,761 on Friday as 16,838 new cases were registered during the past 24 hours, said the latest data from the federal health ministry.

According to the official data, the death toll mounted to 157,548 as 113 COVID-19 patients died since Thursday morning.

There are still 176,319 active cases in the country, while 10,839,894 people have been discharged so far from hospitals after medical treatment.

The phase 2 of the ongoing COVID-19 vaccine drive began in the country on Monday with Prime Minister Narendra Modi taking his first dose of COVID-19 vaccine – Covaxin, manufactured by Bharat Biotech company.