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Pakistan’s COVID-19 deaths cross 20,000 with vaccines hard to get


Pakistan’s coronavirus death toll crossed 20,000 on Friday as authorities struggle to contain a third wave of the pandemic that has battered the South Asian nation.

More than 100 people died of COVID-19 on Thursday, taking the total number to 20,089, the Health Ministry’s statistics showed.

The number of total infections in one of the world’s most populous countries had reached around 900,000 with more than 3,000 new cases in the past day, the ministry said.

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Most deaths have occurred during the ongoing third wave as a majority of new patients were infected by a variant first found in Britain, Pakistan’s Health Chief, Faisal Sultan, said.

“UK variant is dominant and there are some cases of South African strain.

“Both spread faster than the ones that hit Pakistan during the previous waves,’’ Sultan said in the capital Islamabad.

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A slow pace of the national inoculation drive was another reason for rising infections and deaths, said Dr. Ashraf Nizami of the Pakistan Medical Association (PMA), the biggest national body of medics.

Around five million people have been vaccinated in Pakistan so far, a small fraction of the country’s over 200 million population.

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Officials blamed the unavailability of the vaccine in the international market and the delay in the supply of jabs under the global distribution system, codenamed COVAX.