LAHORE, MAY 2 (DNA) – The All Pakistan Business Forum (APBFF) President Maaz Mahmood has stressed the need for speeding up vaccination drive especially for the industry workers in the country, as shutdowns of the industry and lockdowns of the cities are not the real solution.

He said that during the third wave of coronavirus the situation has been deteriorating mainly due to lack of implementation of COVID-19 standard operating procedures and the solution lies in speeding up our vaccination programs, instead of opting for closure of trade and industry amidst GDP growth of just 1.5%.

APBF President also suggested the government to launch a COVID-19 vaccination certificate for the vaccinated people as an immunity passport on the lines of China and several other countries to facilitate its citizens for international travelling. He pointed out that in post-corona era, this kind of health certificate is going to be mandatory for frequent travelers, in the embassies to obtain visas, to travel abroad and for check-in hotels in other countries.

Maaz Mahmood said that the government had rolled out its COVID-19 vaccine campaign very late in Feb, beginning with the healthcare workers in the first phase, then starting vaccination program for the senior citizens which is appreciable step and it should be completed very quickly. Now the priority should be also given to the factory workers and employers across Pakistan, as healthy labor is must for uninterrupted operation of the local as well as export industries, he added.

He asked the government to expedite the process of vaccination and supply ample quantity of doses not only to the whole public but also to the trade and industry, their workers and families.

APBF Chairman Ibrahim Qureshi said that rising mortality in the midst of the third Covid-19 wave and growing anxiety in the business circles over possible restrictions on international travel and trade necessitate ramping up the pace of vaccination. To speed up inoculations, the government will need to bridge vaccine supply gaps with active participation from the federating units and the private sector, he added. He said that the current pace of putting jabs in the arms is slow, as 1.3 million Pakistanis had so far got vaccinated at government facilities and 18,000 paid to get vaccine shots at private hospitals. According to the data, the vaccine coverage in Pakistan currently stands at about half a percent of the population, which is very disappointing.

APBF President Maaz Mahmood said that the government will have to import vaccine in huge quantities at the earliest as the country of 220 million aims to vaccinate almost 70 million, he observed. He urged the trade and industry and workers to get vaccinated to protect themselves as well as their loved ones, suggesting the authorities to import the huge stock of vaccine in this regard, besides launching a robust national education campaign to inform people that the vaccines are completely safe.=DNA