ISLAMABAD, Feb. 1 (Xinhua) -- A batch of China-donated COVID-19 vaccines has been officially handed over to Pakistan on Monday at Noor Khan Air Base near the country's capital Islamabad, making Pakistan the first country to receive the Chinese government donated COVID-19 vaccine.
Earlier on Sunday, the donated Sinopharm vaccines were loaded onto a plane in Beijing.
Addressing the handover ceremony at the air base, Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi expressed his gratitude to the people and the government of China for helping Pakistan in the hour of need and making Pakistan the first country in the world to receive the COVID-19 vaccine donated by the Chinese government.
China kept on showing support to Pakistan since the outbreak of the pandemic including sending medical teams while providing the vaccines is another testament to the traditional friendship between the two countries, he said.
"Our friendship is not limited to governments. Our public have the same sentiments of friendship," the foreign minister added.
On the occasion, Chinese Ambassador to Pakistan Nong Rong said that sending the vaccines is a new manifestation to the "iron brotherhood" between the two countries, adding that China has honored its commitment to making Chinese COVID-19 vaccines, once developed and put into use, global public goods.
This year marks the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between China and Pakistan, the Chinese envoy said, adding that "we are proud of the friendship between China and Pakistan, that is higher than the mountain, deeper than the sea, and sweeter than the honey."
"Our hearts grow closer in the joint fight against COVID-19 with the great solidarity and support we have for each other, and the steady progress in bilateral cooperation including the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. China is ready to contribute to Pakistan's pandemic prevention drive, economic recovery and social development," Nong added.
Pakistan has so far confirmed 546,428 cases and lost 11,683 lives to the disease since the COVID-19 outbreak in the country, according to the latest government data.