China's first batch of COVID-19 vaccines for foreign aid was officially handed over to Pakistan at the Noor Khan Air Base near the country's capital Islamabad on Feb 1.
Addressing the handover ceremony at the air base, Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said Pakistan was the first country to receive COVID-19 vaccines donated by the Chinese government. He expressed his gratitude to the Chinese government and people for helping Pakistan in need.
Chinese Ambassador to Pakistan Nong Rong said at the ceremony that sending the vaccines is not just provision of medical supplies urgently needed by the people of Pakistan, but is also a new manifestation of the "iron brotherhood" between the two countries, adding that it was the first vaccine aid provided by the Chinese government to another country and a concrete step in honoring China's commitment to making COVID-19 vaccines a global public good.
This year marks the 70th anniversary of China-Pakistan diplomatic relations and China will continue to contribute efforts to Pakistan's fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, economic recovery and social development, according to Nong.
The China-donated vaccines will firstly be administered to front-line health workers, said Faisal Sultan, special assistant to the Pakistani Prime Minister on health.
Pakistan had reported 546,428 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 11,683 deaths, according to statistics released by the Pakistani health authorities on Feb 1. A total of 501,252 patients had been cured.