Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan tested positive for COVID-19 on Saturday, two days after receiving his first vaccine dose, government officials said, urging people not to be deterred from getting vaccinated.
Pakistan’s vaccination roll-out has been met with widespread vaccine hesitancy, and Khan’s positive test could serve as a setback to the inoculation drive in the country of 220 million people, health experts said.
Health Minister Faisal Sultan said Khan was “in good health” with a mild cough and fever and was self-isolating at home, adding that the 68-year-old premier had likely been infected much before he got his first vaccine shot on Thursday.
Sultan told local television people should not link the prime minister’s coronavirus infection with the vaccine, which takes times to build antibodies.
In neighbour and arch-rival India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted to wish Khan “a speedy recovery”.
While it was not clear which vaccine Khan was given, the vaccine produced by China National Pharmaceutical Group (Sinopharm) is the only one available in Pakistan.
Khan expressed concern after his positive test result that it could deter ordinary people from getting vaccinated, his advisor Shahbaz Gill told a local television.
He said Khan, who has been seen attending regular gatherings - often without wearing a mask, had mild symptoms.
Asad Umar, the minister in-charge of the country’s COVID-19 operations, said in a tweet it was “certain that PM had been infected prior to vaccination”.