The United States mobilized an airlift of critical health supplies that arrived in Pakistan Saturday to help the country combat the coronavirus outbreak.
The donation includes tens of thousands of “critically needed and requested” personal protective items for healthcare professionals, hundreds of oximeters and other supplies, the U.S. Embassy said.
“Today, the United States continues our proud partnership with the government of Pakistan in our fight against the COVID-19 pandemic,” said U.S. Embassy Chargé d’affaires Lesslie Viguerie.
“Pakistan is not alone in its fight against the coronavirus,” Viguerie said.
Washington has allocated more than $40 million to Islamabad for COVID-19 response assistance, including a donation of 200 ventilators, to care for those suffering from the disease.
The support, U.S. officials said, has benefited more than 2.5 million Pakistanis across the country, providing life-saving treatment, strengthening case-finding and surveillance, and mobilizing innovative financing to bolster emergency preparedness.
Pakistani Foreign Ministry spokesman Zahid Hafeez Chaudhri said his government “greatly appreciates” the U.S. assistance.
“This timely gesture is part of the continued assistance that the U.S. has provided to Pakistan to support our COVID relief and prevention efforts,” Chaudhri said.
Pakistan has reported more than 21,000 deaths among at least 930,000 cases of coronavirus infections since the pandemic hit the country of about 220 million early last year.
Islamabad recently received 1.2 million doses of Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine and 100,000 Pfizer doses under the United Nations-backed COVAX program launched to support the purchase and delivery of COVID-19 vaccine to 92 low- and middle-income countries.
The United States has contributed $2 billion to the COVAX initiative, with another $2 billion commitment planned by 2022.
While initially close ally China provided massive COVID-19 medical supplies to Pakistan and donated a large quantity of vaccine, the Pakistani government says it has purchased or is in the process of procuring more than 90% of the vaccine to inoculate 70% of its eligible population by the end of 2021.
Beijing has also trained Pakistani staff and established a facility at Islamabad’s National Institute of Health, which is locally filling and finishing the Chinese CanSino vaccine from the concentrate China is providing. The facility has the capacity to roll out 3 million doses a month.
Pakistan has inoculated close to 9 million people as of Saturday, but officials say the pace will pick up in coming weeks to about 600,000 a day to achieve the stated target.