COAS Qamar Bajwa & Bill Gates speak about Pakistan’s COVID-19 response, Polio

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Pakistan Army Chief Bajwa

Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa and Bill Gates, Co-Chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation on Thursday night spoke about Pakistan’s COVID-19 response and resumption of polio vaccination campaigns in the South Asian country, according to the military’s media wing.

Mr. Gates conveyed his appreciation for Pakistan Army for supporting national polio drive and ensuring proper reach and coverage of polio campaigns this year, particularly through involvement of community leaders and influencers, the Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) said in a statement.

The top military commander said that it was national cause and national effort, and that “we will call it a success when no child is affected in Pakistan.”

He credited the grassroots workers including the mobile teams, law enforcement agencies and health representatives for the targets achieved so far.

Both sides also discussed the safe start and efforts needed to effectively conduct polio campaigns in COVID environment.

Mr. Gates acknowledged Pakistan’s efforts in managing the pandemic despite the current rise in COVID-19 cases and efforts to safely conduct polio immunization campaigns and essential immunizations that have continued amid the pandemic.

They also pledged to continue working together to make further progress in ending polio in Pakistan and improving the health of all children, the ISPR statement added.

Earlier today, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation announced it would commit an additional $70 million to make sure vaccines are available for everyone — not just those who could afford them.

“COVID-19 anywhere is COVID-19 everywhere,” Melinda Gates, co-chair of the foundation, said in a statement. “That is why we have to ensure that everyone gets equal access to tests, drugs, and vaccines when they are available — no matter where you live in the world.”

The foundation pledged $50 million to the COVAX Advance Market Commitment group, an arm of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, and a $20 million grant to the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations.

Gavi and CEPI are co-leading the vaccine efforts for the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator, a global group that aims to advance equitable access to COVID-19 tests, treatments and vaccines, according to the foundation.

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