PM Shehbaz Restores NCOC to Contain New COVID-19 Variant

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has decided to restore the National Command and Operation Center (NCOC) with immediate effect to oversee the country’s COVID-19 pandemic response once again.

The development comes a day after Pakistan reported its first case of BA.2.12.1 of the Omicron variant. This relatively new Omicron subvariant is the most mutated strain yet and is spreading rapidly in different countries, including the US.

In March this year, former Prime Minister Imran Khan had decided to shut down the NCOC on 31 March and hand over the responsibility of overseeing the country’s pandemic response to the National Institute of Health (NIH).

In April 2020, former Prime Minister Imran Khan formed the NCOC as the principal body governing the policies and implementation of the national COVID-19 response.

Thanks to NCOC, Pakistan has always ranked among the top countries with the most effective response to Coronavirus. Many global organizations including the IMF and Lowy Institute have recognized Pakistan among the countries with the best COVID-19 response.

NCOC isn’t just about containing the Coronavirus, the body has also managed the country’s COVID-19 vaccination strategy. Since launching the national vaccination drive in February 2021, more than 100 million of the country’s total vaccine-eligible population has been immunized against the Coronavirus.