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One year on: China Aid for the Pandemic in Pakistan
Last Updated: 2021-02-25 17:16 |
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Special plane carrying masks to Pakistan, March 2020. [Photo credit: @CathayPak]
by Tahir Ali 
ISLAMABAD, Feb. 25 (China Economic Net) - The true value of a relationship between individuals or countries can be judged during difficult times such as natural calamities and disease outbreaks. In the present pandemic which hit the entire world, the China-Pakistan all-weather friendship gained greater strength and depth; the steadfast strategic mutual trust and sincere friendship between the two countries is a clear manifestation of “a friend in need is a friend in deed”.
The coronavirus surfaced in December 2019 in Wuhan city of China that saw the world’s first coronavirus lockdown, the highly successful method of containing the disease. No country in the world can tackle any pandemic without moral and strategic support from the world community. As a gesture of friendship, Pakistan’s President Dr. Arif Alvi visited Beijing in March 2020 and expressed Islamabad’s abiding support and solidarity with China in its fight against the coronavirus. 
Soon the coronavirus cases started appearing in different parts of the world. Pakistan reported its first two cases of COVID-19 on February 26, 2020.
With the report of the first two cases, fear gripped the country. Rumors and propaganda about COVID-19 started emerging. Some people termed coronavirus as drama while others exaggerated the threat of the virus more than what it actually poses.
Initially, as there was no medicine or vaccine to treat the disease, the containment of the virus was the first thing to do. Almost all countries in the world were in a run to acquire masks, test kits, ventilators and personal protective equipment (PPE) for their front-line healthcare workers fighting the disease. For a struggling economy like Pakistan’s, it was impossible to fight COVID-19 without relief assistance from friendly countries.
The fear of coronavirus was further aggravated when the first Pakistani died due to the virus in northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province on March 18, 2020.  Following the first casualty, the people of Pakistan saw coronavirus lockdowns in different parts of the country that intensified fear and uncertainty amongst them. On March 23, 2020, the death of 26-year-old Dr. Usama Riaz devastated the whole nation. He died due to COVID-19 while treating coronavirus patients entering from Iran-Balochistan border and returning to their homes in Gilgit-Baltistan.
At a time when every country of the world was focused on protecting its citizens from the virus, China sent a special plane carrying a team of medical professionals and relief assistance to Pakistan on March 28. The first assistance from China included test kits, masks, protective suits and support to build an isolation hospital. In addition to the Government of China, Alibaba Foundation and Jack Ma Foundation also donated test kits and facemasks to Pakistan. China also handed over ventilators to treat critical patients in hospitals. 
A team of eight medical experts from China remained in Pakistan for two weeks and assisted Pakistani doctors and health experts in battling the coronavirus.
Chinese assistance was not only limited to the medical field, as the People’s Republic of China also provided grant assistance of $ 15 million to Pakistan to fight COVID-19. 
As the number of COVID-19 cases and deaths grew in Pakistan, China also increased its assistance to the country. In late 2020, different pharmaceutical companies developed coronavirus vaccines and mass vaccination programs started in the world. However, developing countries like Pakistan with struggling economies were out of the race to acquire the vaccines. At  this critical time, China announced 500,000 doses of Sinopharm vaccine for Pakistan. Pakistan has started vaccinating front-line healthcare workers against the coronavirus while the campaign to vaccinate elderly citizens will begin soon.
Pakistan also took part in the Phase III trials of CanSino vaccine developed by CanSino Biologic Company of China. Around 18,000 Pakistani volunteers participated in the trials, which concluded successfully and the interim analysis of data from its multi-country trial showed encouraging efficacy rate. Earlier this month, the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan approved CanSino as the fourth vaccine for emergency use in the country.
During the past one year, Pakistan has around 576, 000 recorded infections with over 12,700 deaths linked to COVID-19. 
Pandemics like corona will come and dissipate. However, this period has further strengthened China-Pakistan friendship.  As a Chinese proverb goes, “friends show their love in times of troubles, not in happiness”.   

(Editor:Liao Yifan)

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One year on: China Aid for the Pandemic in Pakistan | 2021-02-25 17:16
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